The India Meteorological Department predicted thunderstorms at isolated places over the city in the coming days, bringing relief from the dusty air.
The Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) air quality index is now registering "severe" air pollution across the city, with 24-hour average levels of PM 2.5-fine particulate matter 30 times finer than a human hair, which are known to pose the greatest risk to humans-over 250 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m³) of air.
The air quality in Delhi deteriorated on Thursday, June 14, due to the massive dust storms in western India which increased rough particles in the air, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data said.
Delhi's chief minister, who belongs to an opposition party, called the city a "gas chamber" past year as levels of airborne PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that can reach deep into the lungs, far exceeded levels classified as "hazardous".
Strong winds are expected to clear the air, said Gufran Beig, a scientist at the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research Institute (SAFAR).
The "severe" condition of air quality forced the country's Ministry of Environment to appeal to the people to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure.
The situation is so dire that Delhi LG on Thursday ordered to halt construction work till Sunday.
In a statement, the L-G office stated that the municipal corporations, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and SDMs will strictly enforce prohibition on open burning of garbage, plastics and leaves in the national capital. The decision came after Lt Governor chaired an emergency meeting in view of severe dust pollution.
He also issued an order for an afforestation drive from July 15 to September 15 across Delhi and asked the people of Delhi to participate.
The civic body is said to have intensified mechanical road sweeping of streets as part of the measures. We have been told by the Met Department that rain is likely to take place on Saturday, which will mitigate this bad weather situation.