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All schools in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) have been directed to remain shut and the entry of trucks into the region, except those carrying essential goods, has been restricted until Sunday, November 21, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) said in a list of directives late Tuesday.

Public and private sector organisations would have to ensure that 50% of their staff work from home until November 21.

All construction activities, except those involving the Railways, Metro Rail, airports and those of national importance, would have to cease until Sunday.

There would be, however, no restriction on transport.

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The CAQM has powers under an Act of Parliament to take air pollution-abatement measures across all of Delhi and parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that come under the NCR. The body met a day after the Supreme Court directed the Centre to convene a meeting involving all concerned States to take steps to address the current air pollution crisis that has emerged due to construction activities, industries, transport, thermal power plants and stubble burning. The SC has asked the government to furnish responses to the action taken on Wednesday.

The CAQM said the air quality over Delhi was expected to remain in the “very poor” category and could slip into the “severe” category in the coming days and was unlikely to noticeably improve by Sunday. The body convened a day-long meeting with officials from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. Secretaries from the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Power Ministry, and the Environment Ministry were also present.

Other decisions taken were to ensure that all industries in NCR having gas connectivity should only run on gas as a fuel, failing which they would be shut. The State governments would set up an effective ‘enforcement mechanism’ to monitor air pollution compliance. Only five of the 11 power plants in a 300-km radius around Delhi would be allowed to function and the rest would be inoperative until November 30.

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