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37 flights diverted, pollution level at 3-year high in Delhi


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NEW DELHI: A day ahead of the odd-even vehicle rule rollout here, 37 flights had to be diverted from the city on Sunday morning as a thick blanket of smog drastically reduced visibility at the Delhi airport. Also, more than 250 departures and 300 arrivals were delayed.

More worrying was the pollution level in Delhi, which was at a three-year high, as the day’s average air quality index stood at 494, the highest since November 6, 2016, when it was 497.

Flight disruptions that began at 9 am eased only around 3.30 pm. Air India was the worst-hit with 12 of its flights diverted elsewhere. Vistara diverted four flights from Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Goa to Amritsar and one to Mumbai.

Air India’s incoming flights connecting Singapore, Surat, Bahrain, Bhopal, and Nagpur were diverted to the Amritsar airport. Five other flights were sent to Jaipur and two to Lucknow, a spokesperson said.

While Delhi has declared a medical emergency, Haryana and UP governments too announced school closures till Tuesday in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Prime Minister’s Office later stepped in to address the situation. After holding a high-level meeting, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, PK Mishra, said about 300 teams had been deployed with the necessary equipment to reduce air pollution in the city.

Officials said the main focus was on seven industrial clusters and major traffic corridors in the NCR. The Centre is keeping a close watch on polluting units and burning of waste, besides construction activities in Delhi.

Meanwhile, the odd-even scheme will start from 8 am on Monday, beginning with even-numbered vehicles plying on the roads.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)