Gurgaon’s AQI was at a ‘severe’ 454, higher than Delhi (432) and Faridabad (427), which were the country’s three most polluted cities on Thursday, data released by the Central Pollution Control Board on Thursday showed. Another set of data released by Safar, though, showed Delhi’s AQI on Thursday at 500+. Safar, however, does not measure Gurgaon data.
The average concentration of fine particulate matter -PM2.5 -was 697 micrograms per cubic metre (gm3), almost a 70% rise from Wednesday’s level of 423. It was also nearly 12 times above the national safe standard of 60 gm3. The peak pollution level, meanwhile, which was recorded at 803 gm3 on Wednesday, breached the 900 mark on Thursday to touch a scary 927 gm3.
The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) blamed the high pollution levels on the city’s proximity to Delhi but neither the board nor the state government issued a health advisory to people or give any instruction on shutting down schools and polluting industries.
“My eyes started burning the moment I stepped out of my house,” said a woman wearing a mask who got off an auto to board the Metro at Huda City Centre on Thursday. “I’ve been having a constant irritation in my throat as well over the past few days, probably because of pollution,” she added.
Experts said the alarmingly high levels of PM 2.5 posed serious health risks and it was strange that the government hadn’t reacted. “Major damage is caused by fine particulate matter because they go straight to the lungs and can cause hazardous diseases,” said Pankaj Jha, former environmental sciences professor at Delhi University.
The weatherman predicted the situation would remain the same unless it rains or the wind speed increases. “Right now, the wind speed is zero.The situation is expected to improve Monday onwards,” said a Met department official.
4 Gurgaon schools declare holidays; Noida acts too
Rising air pollution has forced private schools to shut down till the air quality index gets better. Four schools–The Heritage School, Shiv Nadar School, The Shri Ram School in Moulsari, and The Shri Ram School in Aravali – have asked students to stay at home till further notice.
According to The Heritage School officials, the institution will remain closed from November 4 till school management takes stock of pollution levels on Monday.
“We have declared holidays from November 4 in response to rising pollution levels in the city. Unless we collectively take action, the city is going to sink deeper into this crisis,” said Kaye Jacob, principal, The Heritage School.
Many schools in Noida, including The Shriram Millennium School, has changed their timings and restricted outdoor activities for children. The move came after parents complained about the rising pollution levels in the city.