To combat pollution, the Delhi government on Wednesday issued 10 directions, including a ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items in the city and closure of schools and colleges till further orders, even as the air quality improved marginally due to a dip in emissions from farm fires.
The Delhi government has banned construction and demolition activities in the city till November 21.
It has also ordered its employees to work from home till Sunday.
The Delhi government had earlier announced the closure of all schools, colleges and educational institutions till Sunday and banned construction and demolition activities till November 17.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said 1,000 private CNG buses will be hired to strengthen the public transport system. The process will start on Thursday.
Delhi's air quality improved marginally, registering the 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) at 375 on Wednesday from 403 the day before. Authorities, however, said no major improvement is likely till Sunday.
Faridabad (378), Ghaziabad (361), Greater Noida (362), Gurugram (344) and Noida (356) also recorded their air quality in the 'very poor' category.
The minimum temperature in the capital dropped to 9.6 degrees Celsius, three notches below normal and the lowest this season so far. The maximum temperature settled at 27.4 degrees Celsius, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
V K Soni of the IMD on Tuesday told the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) that a lower ventilation index due to low temperatures and calm wind conditions is predicted between Wednesday and Sunday, which is unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.
The air quality is likely to improve Sunday onwards due to relatively strong winds, he said.
The ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor SAFAR also said the air quality is likely to remain the same for the next two days.
According to Gopal Rai, the Delhi Metro and the Delhi Transport Corporation have written to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to allow people to travel in metro trains and public vehicles standing.
The Transport Department has provided a list of diesel and petrol vehicles older than 10 years and 15 years, respectively, to the traffic police to stop them from plying on roads.
The traffic police have been directed to create a special task force to monitor congestion. The drive to check pollution-under-control certificates will be intensified, the minister said.
"Machines of the fire brigade will sprinkle water at 13 pollution hotspots in Delhi in addition to the 372 tankers already deployed in the city for this purpose," he said.
Ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on the air pollution issue, the CAQM late on Tuesday night directed that schools, colleges and educational institutions in the National Capital Region will remain closed until further orders, allowing only online mode of education.
It also said that only five of the 11 thermal power plants located within a 300 km radius of Delhi will remain operational till November 30.
The commission directed Delhi and the NCR states to stop construction and demolition activities in the region till November 21, barring railway services/railway stations, metro rail corporation services, including stations, airports and inter-state bus terminals and national security/defence-related activities/ projects of national importance subject to strict compliance of the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules and dust control norms.
State governments in NCR have been directed to allow work from home for at least 50 per cent of their employees in offices in NCR till Sunday and encourage private establishments to follow suit. Trucks carrying non-essential items have been banned from entering Delhi till Sunday.
'All industries in NCR still using unapproved fuels shall be closed by respective governments with immediate effect... NCR states and GNCTD shall enforce a strict ban on the use of diesel generator sets, except for emergency services,' the panel said.
It directed the Delhi government to expeditiously procure and put on the road an adequate number of CNG buses at the earliest.