All schools, colleges and educational institutions in Delhi and nearby cities should be closed till further notice, the Commission for Air Quality Management said late Tuesday night in a series of directions for the national capital region as it battles a toxic smog that has blanketed the city for over a week.
Educational institutions must therefore return to fully online classes, as held during the Covid lockdown.
A nine-page order issued by the CAQM also advised NCR state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to allow at least 50 per cent of staff to work from home till November 21.
Private firms in Delhi NCR must also be “encouraged” to allow at least 50 per cent of their staff to work from home, the order by the CAQM (a subcommittee of the Central Pollution Control Board) said.
Apart from WFH instructions and the closure of presential classes for schools and colleges, the order also calls for “heavy penalty on persons/organisations responsible for stacking construction materials… or waste on roads in NCR” and “augment availability of road-sweeping machines in NCR”.
Construction activities and demolition projects across Delhi NCR have been stopped till November 21 as well, with exceptions made for railway services/stations, Metro operations, airports and bus terminals, as well as national security or defence-related activities and projects.
NCR states and the Delhi government have also been directed to stop the entry of trucks to the national capital, except for those carrying essential commodities.
This is also till November 21 and is subject to further review.
Petrol and diesel vehicles older than 10 and 15 years, respectively, will not be allowed on the roads. Drivers of vehicles found without a valid emission control certificate will be hauled up, the order said.
The CAQM order comes as the Delhi government and the centre face uncomfortable questions from the Supreme Court over the lack of emergency planning for, and response to, the air quality crisis.