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In view of severe air pollution in the national capital, the central pollution watchdog has advised people to avoid going outdoors and directed the government and private offices to reduce vehicle usage by at least 30% as Delhi recorded its worst AQI of this season today.

In a notification, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said that at a review meeting held earlier in the day, it was observed that meteorological conditions will be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants till November 18 in view of low winds with calm conditions during the night.

It was also observed that the contribution of stubble burning in pollution is likely to remain high due to North-westerly winds and increased instances of burning of crop residue.

The national capital recorded its 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) at 471 by 4 pm, the worst this season so far. It was 411 on Thursday.

Faridabad (460), Ghaziabad (486), Greater Noida (478), Gurugram (448) and Noida (488) also recorded severe air quality at 4 pm.

The CPCB stated, "Government and private offices and other establishments are advised to reduce vehicle usage by at least 30 per cent (by working from home, car-pooling, optimising field activities, etc). People are advised to limit outdoor activities and minimise their exposure."

It also said that the implementing agencies, at appropriate level, must closely monitor actions taken and submit daily report to the pollution control boards and committees concerned which will review and further submit reports to the Commission of Air Quality Management (CAQM) and CPCB.

“Concerned agencies must be in complete readiness for implementation of measures under 'emergency' category as per GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan)," it said.

CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava observed that, in view of unfavourable meteorology, stubble burning and poor dispersion resulting in accumulation of pollutants, the coming week is critical with regard to air quality in Delhi-NCR.

The CPCB said that the Action Taken Report (ATR) is received on daily basis from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana Pollution Control Boards but these reports are awaited from Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board.

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