New Delhi: The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority mandated by the Supreme Court has declared a public health  emergency in New Delhi and surrounding areas as the region has been trapped by toxic smog since Diwali. 

The Environment Pollution Authority has also banned construction activity till November 5 as the pollution level has entered the “emergency” category on late Thursday night. The city had also banned bursting of crackers. 

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Schools in Delhi will remain closed till November 5.” Schools in the national capital are asked to stop all outdoor activities till November 5. 

Kejriwal called the city a “gas chamber”, while distributing masks to school children. He also blamed the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab where the farmers at this time of the year burn crop stubble. 

If the air quality continues to be in the severe plus category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures are to be taken under the Graded Response Action Plan, the official said. 

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar accused Kejriwal saying, “Instead of blaming Punjab and Haryana, he should think about Modi-ji’s proposal to curb pollutants produced by industries in five states.” 

Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities and each winter the crop stubble and Diwali firecrackers turn leave the skies putrefactive.