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Ahead of Diwali, Delhi-NCR turns into gas chamber

In NCR, at 4 a.m, the AQI was 435 in Ghaziabad, 425 in Greater Noida, 433 in Noida, and 421 in Faridabad, with 401 to 500 considered “severe”.

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) The national capital and the areas around experienced the first smog episode of this season as the city turned into gas chamber two days before Diwali with air quality placed in “emergency” or “beyond-severe” category.

Under severe-plus or emergency category, which impacts even healthy people by letting the particle pollutant into the bloodstream, the normal dust masks fail, and even walks are advisable against. In 2016 and 2017, schools were shut down for a few days under similar conditions.

On Monday, the overnight change in weather condition, change in wind directions and impact of stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana led to higher pollution levels.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 426 at 4 p.m. The AQI, however, dropped to 435 by 7 a.m on a scale of 0 to 500.

The condition is expected to prevail till Diwali, however, it may improve if no additional emission from firecracker adds to the Delhi’s air, said the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

Delhi may also see pollution response measure under “severe-plus” category that include parking fee hike, odd-even vehicle rationing scheme and ban on entry of trucks into Delhi. The measures are imposed by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) if severe-plus or emergency condition prevails for 48 hours.

“Even if 50 per cent of the total load of toxic firecrackers, as compared to Diwali-2017, is added, the prevailing weather conditions will aggravate the high smoke level and make air quality to persist in severe range for at least up to November 8-9,” said SAFAR.

It added that dispersion of pollutants will not be possible, resulting in increase levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution, in case of firecrackers.

On Monday, the air quality of Delhi and most of the NCR fell from moderate on Sunday to severe on Monday. By 11 a.m on Monday, Delhi’s air became severe-plus, which occurs when PM2.5 or PM10, particles with diameter less than 2.5mm and 10mm, are over 300 and 500 microgrammes per cubic meters, respectively.

The safe limit, PM2.5 and PM10 has been under-60 and 100 units, as per national standards. The international standards are 25 units for PM2.5 and 50 units for PM10.

“This is the first smog episode of Delhi for this season. It is supposed to remain for a few days around Diwali. Unlike in 2017 and 2016, the EPCA has already issued directions. However, if severe-plus situation prevails, more restrictions may come in force a day after Diwali,” Shambhavi Shukla, of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told IANS.

The average PM2.5 and PM10 across 35 areas of Delhi at 7 p.m were 364 and 504 units, respectively. Across NCR, the same were 358 and 494 units.

In NCR, at 4 a.m, the AQI was 435 in Ghaziabad, 425 in Greater Noida, 433 in Noida, and 421 in Faridabad, with 401 to 500 considered “severe”.

The AQI in Gurugram and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan were very-poor at 325 and 324, respectively, as the polluted air coming from north-western regions got trapped in Delhi’s high moisture air.

“Till Sunday evening, Delhi received moist easterly winds which helped in improving the air quality for the time being, but as they stopped and changed into cold north-westerly winds bringing smoke from Punjab and Haryana, the pollutants, both local and from stubble, got trapped,” Mahesh Palwat, Director of private weather forecast agency Skymet, said.

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Delhi govt to provide essential amenities to farmers at Nirankari Maidan

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farmers at Sindhu border

New Delhi: Farmers from Punjab have been allowed to demonstrate at the Nirankari grounds in Delhi’s Burari to protest against the Centre’s agricultural laws. At the same time, the Delhi government has decided to provide basic facilities to the farmers at Nirankari grounds, beginning with drinking water.

The Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi has asked its MLA and Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Raghav Chadha to take stock of the situation by reaching Burari.

The Delhi government said in a press briefing, “Raghav Chadha, Vice Chairman, Delhi Jal Board, will visit the Nirankari grounds, Burari on Friday evening. Proper arrangements for drinking water will be made for farmers who are protesting at the approved protest site. Water tankers are being deployed here. To oversee the preparations, DJB vice-president Raghav Chadha is going to the dharna site.”

Chadha told IANS, “Farmers have a right to speak and cannot be treated like criminals. Our farmer brothers and sisters are reaching Delhi from all corners of the country. They have come here to protest the black farm laws passed by the Modi government. Now they have got permission to come to the Nirankari grounds. Whatever they need here, whether it is water, food, toilets, the Arvind Kejriwal government will provide it. All the officers and MLAs are keeping an eye on the arrangements.”

The Delhi Police had sought permission to convert nine stadia in Delhi into temporary jails. However, the Kejriwal government has rejected the proposal. The Delhi government has issued an official statement supporting the farmers. The state government says the farmers demands are justified and they have the right to protest.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “The Centre’s three farming laws are anti-farmer. Instead of withdrawing these laws, farmers are being prevented from protesting peacefully, water canons are being turned on them. This atrocity on farmers is completely wrong. Peaceful demonstrations are their constitutional right.”

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Farmers refuse to leave Sindhu border as agitation ‘could weaken’

The meeting of the farmers at the Sindhu border was still going on on Friday evening.

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farmers at Sindhu border

New Delhi, Nov 27 : Even as the Delhi Police on Friday allowed farmers from Punjab, Haryana and elsewhere to hold a peaceful protest against the controversial Agriculture Bills at the Sant Nirankari ground in the capital’s Burari area, the farmers refused to leave Delhi-Haryana Sindhu border fearing that their protest would be “weakened”.

Delhi Police made the announcement after using tear gas shells and water cannons on the protesting farmers, and undertaking a baton charge to disperse them as they tried to enter Delhi.

Gurpreet Singh, a farmer associated with Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta in Punjab, told IANS, “We are holding talks with our representatives as of now to decide whether we will got to Burari ground or not.”

Singh said that most of the farmers don’t want to go at Burari ground and that is the reason why they are all are sitting here.

“Till the time the government does not accept our three demands, we will sit here,” he asserted.

Singh said that the farmers have been demanding the revocation of the three Agriculture Bills that were passed in Parliament in September this year, guarantee the minimum support price to farmers and roll back the fine on stubble burning.

Another farmer said that All India Kisan Khet Mazdur Sangthan’s leadership are also sitting on the Sindhu border here and they too don’t want to go to Burari for protests.

The meeting of the farmers at the Sindhu border was still going on on Friday evening.

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Kangana bungalow demolition smacks of malice, says Bombay High Court

Ranaut had sought Rs 2 crore in damages from the BMC and urged the court to declare BMC’s action illegal

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Kangana Ranaut

Mumbai, November 27: The Bombay High Court on Friday has said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) action of demolishing part of Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow here smacks of malafide and was done to cause substantial loss to the actor, and quashed the demolition order.

The court also said it did not approve of authorities using “muscle power” against any citizen.

A division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and RI Chagla noted that the action undertaken by the civic body left hardly “any manner of doubt” that it was unauthorised.

The bench was hearing Ranaut’s petition challenging the demolition carried out by the BMC at her Pali Hill bungalow in suburban Bandra on September 9.

“The civic body has proceeded to act wrongfully and illegally against the rights of a citizen,” the bench said.

Ranaut had sought Rs 2 crore in damages from the BMC and urged the court to declare BMC’s action illegal.

On the issue of compensation, the bench said it was appointing a valuer who would hear the petitioner and the BMC on monetary damages caused to her due to the demolition.

“The valuer shall by March 2021 pass appropriate orders on compensation,” the court said.

The civic body had opposed the plea and said the actor had brazenly and unlawfully carried out extensive alterations and additions to the bungalow in breach of its approved plan.

Ranaut had filed the petition on September 9 when the demolition process was initiated by the BMC. The court had in an interim order on September 9 stayed the demolition work. PTI

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