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Air quality in Delhi remains beyond severe for third day

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Delhi Pollution

New Delhi | The air quality in Delhi remained beyond the “severe” level for the third day today, as authorities warned the dusty conditions are likely to prevail for another 3-4 days and advised people to avoid staying outdoors for long hours.

The air quality deteriorated because of dust storms in western India, particularly Rajasthan, which increased coarser particles in the air, the Central Pollution Control Board said.

The PM10 level (presence of particles with diameter less than 10mm) was beyond severe at 796 in Delhi-NCR and 830 in Delhi particularly, leading to hazy conditions.

According to the CPCB, the air quality index – a measurement of the concentration of toxic particulate matter in the air – at several places in Delhi remained beyond the 500-mark, with east Delhi’s Anand Vihar area recording a PM10 level of 929 and PM2.5 level of 301 this morning.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered “Good”, 51-100 “Satisfactory”, 101-200 “Moderate”, 201-300 “Poor”, 301-400 “Very Poor”, and 401-500 “Severe”.

The wind blowing in the region has contributed to the spread of dust particles. According to the Met department, wind speed reaching up to 35 kmph is predicted for today in the city. The dust-laden winds have created a haze in Delhi-NCR since yesterday.

The Environment Ministry has said the dusty conditions are likely to prevail for the next three days. It has alerted construction agencies, municipal corporations and Delhi Pollution Control Committee to ensure water sprinkling.

The CPCB said pollution this summer is very different from last year. In November, both PM2.5 and PM10 spiked in the Delhi-NCR region, posing serious health hazard to residents.

However, the increase in pollution levels now is mainly due to drastic increase in coarse particles in air. This time the PM2.5, ultra-fine particles that may reach lungs and affect its functioning, is not as high as that of November last year.

A Sudhakar, CPCB member-secretary, warned residents that the pollution level is expected remain like this for 3-4 days and people are requested to avoid staying outdoors for more than 3 to 4 hours.

“There could be discomfort or breathing difficulties due to the pollution,” Sudhakar said.

“We have also called a meeting of construction companies and if the beyond severe condition persist we would stop the construction activities,” he said.

At an urgent meeting yesterday, the CPCB yesterday directed agencies concerned to contain local dust sources. The Environment Ministry too has requested the Delhi chief secretary to issue instructions to the agencies concerned.

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Muscular security policy will not work in J-K: Mehbooba Mufti says after her resignation

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PDP chief and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti raised the bogey of Article 370 and unilateral ceasefire on Tuesday, saying the muscular security policy will not work in the state and reconciliation is the key.

“I am not shocked as this alliance was never for power. PDP never believes in power politics and we worked for the people,” she told reporters after an hour-long meeting with her ministers and party workers at her residence.

Mehbooba maintained that Jammu and Kashmir was not an enemy territory as being perceived by few. “We had always said muscular security policy will not work in J-K, reconciliation is key,” she said.

She began her press conference by raising Article 370, under which the state enjoys a special status, and said “…we have safeguarded Article 370 and 35-A (of the Constitution) and we will continue to do that”.

“We have been able to withdraw 11,000 cases against the stone pelters,” she said while listing her side of the story after the BJP pulled out of its alliance with the PDP in the state.

She also mentioned about the unilateral ceasefire during Ramazan announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore in 2015.

Mehbooba, who submitted her resignation to the governor this evening , said her party will continue to strive for dialogue and reconciliation in the state.

“I have told the governor we will not go into any other alliance,” she said.

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Pavements shouldn’t be obstructed by encroachments: Delhi High Court

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Observing that pavements should not be obstructed by encroachments as it could lead to traffic hazards as well as imperil life of pedestrians, the Delhi High Court has directed the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to remove a temple built illegally on a footpath near C R Park here.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar told the corporation that while bringing the pavement in question to its original condition, the deities in the temple be shifted to another place without damaging them.

It directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South-East) to ensure that adequate police protection is made available to the SDMC for implementing the court’s order in which the bench also asked the corporation to file a status report within eight weeks regarding the steps taken by it.

The direction by the court came while disposing of a PIL against encroachments on the pavement at Govind Puri Extension opposite F-Block of C R Park.

While disposing of the matter, the bench said, “Pavements have to be maintained as pavements and no obstruction thereon can be permitted. The same results not only in traffic hazards but imperils the life of pedestrians who have no place to walk.

“In view of the above, the SDMC shall forthwith take steps to remove the entire unauthorized temple opposite F-Block, C R Park, Govind Puri Extension, Kalkaji and ensure that the pavement is brought to its original condition and maintained as such. Needless to say, the SDMC shall take care to ensure the deities are shifted to any other place and that no damage is caused thereto.”

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8,000 Indian journalists to be trained by Google

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To guard journalists against falling prey to false news stories, Google India on Tuesday said it will provide training to 8,000 journalists in English and six other Indian languages in the next one year.

Google News Initiative India Training Network will select 200 journalists from different parts of India. These journalists will improve their skills during a five-day “train-the-trainer” boot camps organised by Google.

This network of certified instructors will then train more journalists at two-day, one-day and half-day workshops organised by the Network giant. Training workshops will be conducted in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi and Kannada in cities across India, Google India said in a statement.

The aim of the training is to master Indian journalists in fact-checking, verification and maintaining digital hygiene using information built by experts from First Draft, Storyful, AltNews, BoomLive, Factchecker.in and DataLeads.

“Supporting trusted, authoritative media sources is a top priority for Google, which is why we are proud to collaborate with Internews, DataLeads and BoomLive to support journalists in their fight against misinformation in India,” said Irene Jay Liu, Google News Lab Lead, Asia-Pacific.

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