New Delhi, 3rd November 2033: On November 3, the city of Delhi woke up to severe air quality conditions, with Mundka reporting the highest Air Quality Index (AQI) of 498, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). This deterioration in air quality led to a thick haze blanketing the national capital’s skyline.

The CPCB data revealed that AQI levels in various areas were concerning, with Lodhi Road recording 438, Jahangirpuri at 491, RK Puram and IGI Airport (T3) at 486 and 473 respectively. The AQI scale ranges from 0 to 500, with values up to 100 considered good, 100 to 200 as moderate, 200 to 300 as poor, 300 to 400 as very poor, and 400 or above as severe, posing risks to both healthy individuals and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Furthermore, several parts of Noida also witnessed a drastic drop in air quality, with Sector 62, Sector 1, and Sector 116 reporting AQI values of 483, 413, and 415 respectively. Responding to the alarming situation, the Delhi government made the decision to close all government and private primary schools for the next two days. Additionally, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) initiated the third stage of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Thursday.

In this stage, which is implemented when the AQI falls within the ‘Severe’ range of 401-450, the State government gains the authority to impose stringent restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in specific areas and may suspend physical classes in schools for primary grade children up to Class 5. Consequently, primary school classes have been suspended by the Delhi government. The sub-committee assessed the air quality situation in the region and reviewed forecasts for meteorological conditions and air quality index provided by IMD and IITM.

In response to the situation, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) announced that the Delhi government has enforced a ban on construction activities across the entire National Capital Region (NCR). However, exceptions have been granted for projects related to railway services, metro services, airports, inter-state bus terminals, defense-related activities, and healthcare-related activities. The government also intends to increase the frequency of mechanized road sweeping and ensure daily water-sprinkling along with dust suppressants, as stated in the official release.

The ban encompasses activities such as earthwork for excavation and filling, including boring and drilling works. Additionally, non-essential construction work, stone crushing, and mining have been prohibited in the region. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai mentioned that a meeting of the concerned department would be convened to discuss the implementation of GRAP Stage III, speaking to ANI.