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Will not let BJP form government in Maharashtra: Congress

Mumbai: Congress leader Husain Dalwai on Friday said that his party will not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the government in Maharashtra.

The leader also exuded confidence that the party MLAs will follow the party high command's direction.

"All Congress MLAs are together. No MLA will break away from the party. MLAs will follow what party high command. We'll not allow BJP to form the government in the state.


National Congress Party (NCP) is our ally, they are with us. People have voted for us to save Maharashtra," he said while speaking to ANI in Mumbai.

Hussain Dalwai said, "I am fully sure that BJP will not be able to poach our MLAs.Some Congress leaders who defected before elections are planning to return."

Yesterday, he also hinted at forming an alliance with Shiv Sena saying that the two parties can have a discussion over having the next chief minister from Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.

The Congress leader also added that whatever decision the party will take, it will be taken along with NCP.

"We can have a discussion over this. We have said that we don't want the Chief Minister to be from the BJP. Congress and NCP do not want BJP chief minister. We don't think that it is a good thing," the Congress leader had stated.

As the deadline -- November 9 -- for government formation in Maharashtra is fast approaching, the Shiv Sena is not ready to settle for anything less than equal share in Cabinet portfolios and the chief minster's post for 2.5 years.

The BJP has emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats in the recently held Assembly polls. The Shiv Sena got 56 seats in 288-member Vidhan Sabha.


'Divider Didi': BJP leaders slam Mamata Banerjee over JEE row

Many BJP leaders on Thursday slammed Mamata Banerjee after she objected over the engineering entrance examination JEE being conducted `only' in Gujarati besides English and Hindi.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) on Thursday clarified it had decided to make available the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Mains) paper in Gujarati language as Gujarat was the only state to have approached it on the issue.

The statement came a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the Centre for adding Gujarati as a medium for the JEE (Mains) and asked why all other regional languages, including Bengali, should not be included as well. Escalating her fight with the Centre over alleged bias against regional languages in conducting JEE (Main) tests, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday her party will hold state-wide protests against it on November 11.


"The JEE (Main) Examination started in 2013 with the idea of all states admitting their engineering candidates through JEE (Main). The request was sent to all the states in the year 2013 itself," the NTA said in a press release. “The request was sent to all the states in 2013. Only Gujarat agreed to admit their candidates in state engineering colleges of Gujarat through JEE (Main) and requested that the JEE (Main) paper be made available in Gujarati language,” it said.

It said initially only Gujarat agreed to admit candidates to the state's engineering colleges through JEE (Main) and requested that question papers be made available in Gujarati language. In 2014, Maharashtra also opted for admitting the candidates through JEE and requested that question papers be provided in Marathi and Urdu. In 2016, both these states withdrew the admission to the state engineering colleges through JEE (Main). Therefore, the translation in Marathi and Urdu languages was stopped. However, the translation in Gujarati language continued at the request of Gujarat, it said.

Taking to Twitter, she said the Centre’s intention was to “malign all regions and regional languages”. “Joint Entrance Exams so long were conducted in English and Hindi languages. Surprisingly, now only Gujarati language has been added. Such a step is not at all praiseworthy,” she had said.

Banerjee further said that her move is not against Gujarati and all she wants is for other regional languages to be included as well. “I love Gujarati language. But, why the regional languages were ignored? If Gujarati language can be included, then all regional languages, including Bengali should be there,” she said.


Later, several BJP leaders engaged in war of words with Banerjee.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya on Thursday hit out at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and called her "divider didi". Taking to Twitter, Vijayvargiya posted the statement released by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which clarifies the grounds for conducting the exam in Gujarati, Hindi and English across India. "Dear Divider Didi, dividing people in the name of the language is not going to multiply your votes! To set the record straight, you never requested the exam to be held in Bengali!" he tweeted.

Slamming Mamata Banerjee's, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani slammed Banerjee in a tweet. Taking to Twitter, Rupani also posted a link of a clarification issued by the National Testing Agency on the objection raised by the West Bengal chief minister. "Dear #DividerDidi, people of your state need development not such divisive stunts. Now that the facts are out, you should apologise to the people for your lies!," Rupani tweeted.

Addressing a press conference here, Banerjee claimed that West Bengal education minister had written a letter months back for also including Bengali language for writing the examination but that was not done.

Asked whether Bengali language was being discriminated against, she said, "Not only Bengali, there is discriminatory attitude towards all the languages except one or two." TMC will hold protest marches in every block of the state on the issue on Monday, the party supremo said. "I also appeal to other states to hold protests on the issue," she said. Recalling how a row had erupted after Union Home Minister Amit Shah pitched for Hindi as a common language, Banerjee said India is a vast country and there are many languages, caste, creed and religion. "But one thing must be remembered that we are united, we are together because ultimately a united India is our motto," the chief minister said.

(Inputs from PTI)


Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut meets Sharad Pawar; Fadnavis meets RSS chief Bhagwat as deadlock continues

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at his residence in south Mumbai.

After meeting Pawar, Sanjay Raut told news agency ANI that, "He (Pawar) is a senior leader of the state and the country. He is worried about the political situation in Maharashtra today. We had a brief discussion."

The deadline for government formation in Maharashtra around 72 hours away, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis made a beeline for Nagpur to meet Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the BJP's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Over the weekend, a Sena leader wrote to Mohan Bhagwat, asking him to intervene and resolve the deadlock, since the BJP was not following "coalition dharma". Kishore Tiwari, a farmers' rights activist, even suggested that senior BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, be made part of negotiations to resolve the crisis.

Maharashtra government impasse, Sharad Pawar may clear clouds

Mumbai: All eyes are on Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar who is likely to clear the clouds as the current political logjam over government formation continued, here on Wednesday.

Pawar, busy with a series of meetings with ally Congress leaders, will address a press conference this afternoon where a significant announcement could be made, party sources indicates.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday made it clear that the post of Chief Minister is 'non-negotiable' but doors were open for all other negotiations.

However, Shiv Sena circles consider it as virtually the doors slammed shut on its face and is now hoping to finalise other options.

The Sena has made it clear that the BJP must honour its pre-Lok Sabha commitment on power-sharing including the post of CM for 30 months, but the BJP has countered by saying the Sena has not yet submitted any proposal in the matter.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut reiterated on Wednesday that there was "a clear understanding in sharing the post of CM which finally resulted in the alliance with BJP".

He also declared that any attempts to impose President's Rule in Maharashtra would be an insult to the "people's mandate" and "injustice to the people of the state".

Ostensibly as a desperate measure to rein in the Sena, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis rushed to Nagpur and met Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, late on Tuesday, but the outcome of the meeting is not clear.

On Monday, Sena leader Kishor Tiwari, who is an advisor of Thackeray, has sought RSS' intervention and wanted Union Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari to be deployed to sort out the power-sharing imbroglio.

Pawar, who is understood to have received a green signal from the Congress, may put the ball in Sena court for extending Opposition support.

Since the past four days, the NCP-Congress' only precondition for extending support to the Sena is that the latter must walk out of the NDA and withdraw its sole union cabinet minister to win the Opposition's confidence.

If that happens, the NCP could join the government, Congress would extend outside support but may settle for the post of Speaker and the entire issue could be resolved by Friday -- the last day of the term of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Delhi's Air Quality continues to be in "very poor" category as schools reopen

New Delhi: Delhi's air quality continued to be in the "very poor" category on Wednesday as schools reopened in the national capital. The air quality index was recorded at 324 on Tuesday morning while last night it was at 309.

However, the air quality had improved on Tuesday from the previous days giving some respite to people suffering from pollution.

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'. An AQI above 500 falls in the severe plus category.

The Meteorological Department forecast a partly cloudy sky with possibility of very light rain, only thundershowers towards the evening today. The maximum temperature is expected to be 31 degrees while the minimum will be 18 degrees celsius, the MET said.

Desperate Fadnavis bid to reach out to Uddhav; even ready to apologise but not inclined to relinquish CM’s post

Mumbai: With the Shiv Sena refusing to dilute its wish list, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has gone on the back foot. Yet, despite very little room to manoeuvre, he is not inclined to take the eyes off the ball (read chief ministership).

Bending backwards, he has decided to reach out to Uddhav Thackeray, meet him personally and even apologise for backtracking on the 50:50 promise made to the Sena before the general elections.

But despite his resolve, desperate attempts made to reach out to Uddhav have drawn a blank, said sources. His request for a meeting has been rejected thrice until now, said sources.

‘‘We are willing to talk to them but they have not responded to any of our messages for the past few days. We are even willing to come to Matoshree (Thacke-ray's residence) and meet Uddhav to find a solution.

I appeal to the Shiv Sena to think of the long term implications of going with the NCP or the Congress party. Balasaheb would be really unhappy with that.

We are willing to consider any suggestion, except sharing the Chief Minister's post," Fadnavis's close aide and troubleshooter Girish Mahajan told a TV channel.

Sensing that the BJP has lost the battle of public perception, Fadnavis decided to resort to bravado.

A desperate message was put out that party doors are "open 24 hours" to discuss any formula with ally Shiv Sena. But the party also underscored that it would form a govern-ment only under Fadnavis. This, on a day Sena leader Sanjay Raut said

the Chief Minister would be from his party. Maharashtra Finance Minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mun-gantiwar, too kept up the pretence and hinted at a possible breakthrough, saying "good news" was expected any moment.

Raut, who has been most vocal in this power tussle, is confident that his party will win the eyeball-to-eyeball contest.

"The Chief Minister will be from the Shiv Sena only. The face and politics of Maharashtra is changing, you will see. What you call hungama (commotion) is not hungama but the fight for justice and rights...victory will be ours," Raut told news agency ANI.

More than anything, the rejection of the proposal for rotation of the CM post has hurt Uddhav. ‘How can the BJP not keep the promise on the CM’s post which Amit Shah and Fadnavis gave to us at Matoshree and that too in front of the chair where Balasaheb Thackeray would sit," Uddhav pointed out.

However, BJP leaders feel the issue has not only become political but is also being given emotional overtones by connecting it to Balasaheb's chair. Nonetheless, sources said, Fadnavis is ready to apologise for his public statement on the CM post.

When the CM failed to secure an appointment with Uddhav, he requested members of his core committee during a meeting on Tuesday evening to do the needful. But the bottom line is unchanged: Fadnavis is not ready to relinquish the CM’s post.

The BJP core committee, which met on Tuesday at CM's official residence "Varsha," discussed the imponderables for two hours. All options were discussed at the meeting.

The BJP’s gut feeling is that the Congress will not support the Sena to form the government, as it may adversely affect its prospects in poll-bound Jharkhand.

Fadnavis also asked state President Chandrakant Patil to drive home the message through media that the government will be formed only under his leadership.

Social media users can attract NSA over Ayodhya posts: Uttar Pradesh DGP

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police O.P. Singh has said that the state will not hesitate to book offenders on social media platforms under the National Security Act (NSA) if they caused a law and order situation ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on Ayodhya.

"We are absolutely ready. Under no circumstances, will anybody be allowed to take law in their hands. Our Intelligence machinery is geared up. If needed, the National Security Act will be imposed on elements who attempt to disrupt law and order," the DGP said.

He further said that the social media platforms were being closely monitored by a team of officials and any objectionable or inflammatory post would invite action.

A five-judge Supreme Court bench had heard the Ayodhya case on a day-to-day basis for 40 days and reserved its verdict on October 16. The apex court is expected to deliver its verdict on a dispute over the ownership of 2.77 acres of land in Ayodhya before November 17, when Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi retires.

The Hindu parties, during the hearing, had argued that the entire 2.77 acres of land is the birthplace of Lord Ram while the Muslim parties claimed the title over the land, saying Muslims had ownership of the land since 1528 when the mosque was built.


If Balasaheb Thackeray was alive would BJP still be so brave?: NCP's Rohit Pawar

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Rohit Rajendra Pawar hit out at BJP-Shiv Sena alliance over the delay in government formation saying the "recent skirmishes" between the NDA partners are an "insult to democracy.

In a Facebook post, he said that he respects Balasaheb Thackeray and questioned if the BJP would have been "so brave" if the Shiv Sena founder was alive today.

"Maharashtra is blessed with many leaders who have earned the respect of the people. One such leader was honourable Balasaheb Thackeray. There are many reasons why I respect him.

One major reason is his stature in national politics. Before elections, BJP promised to share equal power with Shiv Sena. But now BJP is going against its word. This brings us to the question that had Balasaheb Thackeray been alive today would BJP still be so brave?" he wrote.

Stressing that he as a citizen was worried about the delay in government formation, the NCP leader said farmers who were already hit by drought are now facing the lashing of rains.

"Rural, as well as urban people, are facing many problems. There is a need to support the common man by forming the government at its earliest. The people have chosen us as the opposition.

We have accepted the mandate and started working. But the recent skirmishes between BJP and Shiv Sena are an insult to democracy," he said.

Rohit Pawar, the grand nephew of veteran politician Sharad Pawar, won from Karjat Jamkhed constituency in the recently held Assembly Elections in the state.

Rohit Pawar wondered if the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will really give a firm government for the next 5 years considering their current differences.

"The people have already witnessed their conflicts while they were ruling the state. With numbers on their side, BJP is trying to create hurdles for Shiv Sena and the people have to witness their conflict again.

The question remains if there are so many conflicts while deciding the marriage, how will their future be a happy alliance?" he asked. He also accused the BJP of going back on its promise of sharing equal power with Shiv Sena.

His comments come at a time when the NDA allies are engaged in a tussle over government formation in the state. The current term of Maharashtra government ends on November 8.

The BJP had emerged as the single largest party by winning 105 seats in the recently concluded Maharashtra Assembly polls while the Shiv Sena got 56 seats in the 288-member state Assembly.


Shiv Sena- NCP-Congress government will be beneficial for Maharashtra says Deepak Pawar

Weekly interview

Deepak Pawar, a well-known activist for promotion of the Marathi language and Professor in the Political Science department of the Mumbai University, while speaking with Pramod Chunchuwar, political editor of the Free Press Journal says if the Shiv Sena joins hands with the NCP-Congress alliance, it will be a good step towards the betterment of Maharashtra and Marathi Manoos. He says the Sena should now snap ties with Hindutva, and the Congress should rethink on secular politics and the NCP must review their caste politics.

Questions: What is your first reaction on the Assembly poll results?

Answer: This election was not fought on state issues. The ruling parties had claimed they would win 220-plus seats, and had highlighted national issues such as Article 370 and national security during their campaign. Real issues like agrarian crisis, water scarcity and unemployment were not at the centre-stage. The NCP and the Vanchit Bahujan Aaghadi (VBA) had aggressively raised people-centric issues. The Congress was not much active in the field. The mandate is a mixed-bag. The performance of MNS and the VBA was good in terms of the vote percentage polled. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had appealed to the electorate not to press NOTA. But, the voters expressed their anger in some constituencies and rejected all the party candidates.

Question: Vanchit is now being targeted for sabotaging Congress-NCP candidates. They are also called the B-team of the BJP. What is your opinion?

Answer: People are making tall claims about Vanchit and BJP connections, and a financial deal between the two parties. It is inappropriate to speculate without knowing anything first hand. It is true the Congress and the NCP were damaged by Vanchit candidates, but it happened due to the Maratha-oriented politics of the Congress-NCP combine. Even the MNS was labelled as a B-team of the Congress-NCP in the past. Vanchit represents the marginalised castes, which are neglected by the mainstream parties such as Congress and NCP. While announcing candidates for the general election, Vanchit also announced their castes. But, Congress and NCP did not learn a lesson during ticket distribution for the Assembly election.

Question: How do you analyse the Congress-NCP performance?

Answer: The fight was led by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Congress did not fight on the ground. The three former chief ministers -- Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde -- were active only in their own constituencies. Congress fought the battle with defeatist mind-set. Had they campaigned against the arrogance of the BJP, its mega-recruitment by poaching leaders from other parties, misuse of ED, the picture would have been better. The vacuum at the central-level of Congress, too, hit the party. On the contrary, Pawar took poaching by BJP as a challenge. Despite having huge funds, Congress leaders did not spend money on election.

Question: When in power Congress CM Prithviraj Chavan had tried to damage NCP. But in this election, the party went with NCP?

Answer: It was a blunder by Prithviraj. He tried to paint NCP as a corrupt party and portray Congress and himself as honest. But voters are smart, they can use their head and make out that if NCP was corrupt then why in the first place Congress shared power with them. Chavan cultivated his image as an honest leader by using his friendship in the media. He dug a grave for NCP, but Congress finally fell into it.

Question: Do you think the mega-recruitment of leaders boomeranged on BJP?

Answer: Yes. People did not like it. Even their core voters disapproved this. In the past too, leaders have become turncoat. Chhagan Bhujbal had joined Congress and he was kept in hiding for safety. Narayan Rane, too, had switched over to Congress. But in those times, the defection was done with a sense of guilt. It was not projected as a big achievement by parties. This time around, 10 to 20 leaders were given entry into the BJP in a big function. BJP claimed that in NCP, no one will stay except for Pawar. BJP's core supporters were upset with this. Those who joined BJP were given protection from inquiries and arrests. Such TV news reports disappointed the common man. In Gondia, despite having a good candidate, Congress legislator Gopal Agrawal was given entry into the party and BJP leader Vinod Agrawal revolted against him. Voters supported Vinod Agrawal and he emerged victorious. Earlier, BJP used to criticise Sharad Pawar and Congress for giving ticket to goons and corrupt people, saying they gave tickets to deserving candidates, based on merit. BJP followed the same model.

Question: Though there is a serious agrarian crisis. The number of seats won by the BJP-Sena alliance does not reflect it. Why?

Answer: Farmers are always at the centre of politics. Whichever party is in the opposition uses the crisis to criticise the government. During the Lok Sabha election, nationalism had diverted the attention from the major agrarian issue. During the election, farmers' issue became secondary and candidate's caste and economic prowess became primary. Opposition could not highlight the failure of Jalayukta Shivar and plights of people due to drought. Though Vanchit manifesto had mentioned these issues, the primary identity of this party is: it is a party of dalits. Dalits are largely marginal land-holders or without any land.

Question: After 2014, media are blamed for being pro-BJP or pro-government in Maharashtra. Press did not highlight issues like corruption, farmers' suicides the way they did during the Congress-NCP regime. What is your observation?

Answer: Since 2013, the media have tilted towards the BJP. RSS and BJP supporters, who were in the dormant mode in the media, became active. When the Congress-NCP alliance was in power in the state and at the Centre, it used to fight for Marathi language and Marathi schools. In those days, Doordarshan and All India Radio used to call me and give me time to raise my voice on the issue. The Fadanvis government opposed paying tributes to Govind Pansare in the legislature, citing that he was not a member of any House. While speaking on AIR, I opposed it and drew attention to the fact that author PL Deshpande and Balasaheb Thackeray were paid tributes in the legislature even though they were never the members. BJP legislator Parag Alvani called up AIR and objected to my comment. Since then, AIR has stopped calling me. DD calls me up some time but guest coordinator asks me if I would speak against the government. Earlier, leaders used to manage individual journalists. But now, the BJP is managing the owners of the media houses. Journalists 'loyal' to RSS are upset with Fadnavis' poor performance. They compromised their conscience and chose to keep silent even though thousands of farmers hanged themselves.

Question: BJP-Sena sought mandate in the name of good governance and they got it too. Is it not wrong that they are not forming a government?

Answer: In 2014, the BJP and the Sena fought against each other, but joined hands post-election. This time around, they should have formed the government as they got a clear mandate. The Sena should have snapped ties with BJP during the Lok Sabha election. It was a good opportunity for them to emerge as a strong regional force and a better alternative. They might have lost some Lok Sabha seats, but in the Assembly election, they would have gained. Despite joining hands with the BJP, their strength was reduced. Over the last 5 years, the BJP gave them few important portfolios. Now, the Sena wants to teach BJP a lesson. For the BJP, the Shiv Sena is an internal enemy and on their hit list. The BJP cannot use ED against Uddhav Thackeray as it did for other leaders. The BJP will have to promise and give them CM post on a rotational basis.

Question: If formed, will the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government survive?

Answer: The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government may not last long, as the BJP will not allow this government to survive for a long time. The BJP will do anything and everything to bring this down government, the way it toppled the government in Karnataka. The issues of Articles 370 and 35A and Ram Mandir may divide the Sena-NCP alliance. They will have to finalise a common minimum programme. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar shares good relations with the Thackeray family and Shiv Sena. Uddhav Thackeray can lead this government.

Question: Will the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government be beneficial for the state?

Answer: Keeping in mind the interests of Marathi Manoos and Maharashtra in general, the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government will be beneficial. The Sena had almost parted ways with the core Marathi Manoos issues after they joined hands with the BJP on Hindutva plank. The Sena and the NCP are Maharashtra-based Marathi Manoos regional parties. They will always have a Maharashtra-first policy. For instance, a committee headed by Sadanand More submitted a report on the Marathi language policy in 2016. Even after three years, it is yet to be implemented. When asked, we were told that the government was getting opinion of various government departments. For the last three years, they have been taking opinions, and there is no implementation of the policy. Despite sending a strong proposal to give Marathi the status of classical language, the BJP-led central government did not accord this status to Marathi. The Sena was not aggressive for Marathi due to Hindutva politics, but if they form a government with NCP, it will again return to its original agenda of Marathi Manoos, the sole purpose the party was floated.

Question: But such an alliance may damage secular image of the Congress and the NCP and Hindutvavadi image of the Sena. What do you think?

Answer: The Congress and the NCP have never been 100 per cent secular parties. They followed and used secularism as per their convenience. Sometimes, they played appeasement politics to appease Hindus, and sometimes they appeased Muslims. Even when the Congress was in power, riots took place first in 1984 and then in 1992. Despite being in power from 1999 to 2014, they did not bring to book the culprits of the 1992 riots. It means they silently supported the rioters.

The parties will have to tell Hindus that India is not Pakistan of Hindus. And, they will have to tell Muslims that not a single country where Muslims are in majority, is as liberal as India. The Shiv Sena, too, went to another extreme of Hindutva. All of them have to shed extremes in their ideologies. The Sena will have to say good bye to Hindutva politics. The Congress should revisit their secular ideology-based politics and the NCP should rethink on their caste politics.


Delhi: Pollution levels drop marginally due to wind, but air quality remains in 'severe quality'

New Delhi, Nov 4 (PTI) Pollution levels in the national capital dropped marginally on Monday morning due to a slight increase in wind speed, but the air quality remained in the 'severe' category.

At 4.38 am, Delhi's air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 438. The AQI at Alipur, Narela and Bawana were registered at 493, 486 and 472 respectively.

On Sunday, the national capital's average AQI stood at 494, the highest since November 6, 2016 when it was 497.

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'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), Noida (452), Ghaziabad (474) and Greater Noida (454), Gurgaon (396), Faridabad (426) were breathing extremely polluted air.

On Sunday, 21 of the 37 air quality monitoring stations recorded AQI between 490 and 500 with air quality sensors at Aya Nagar, Ashok Vihar, Anand Vihar and Aurobindo Marg peaking out at 7 pm.

The Delhi government had on Friday directed closure of schools till November 5 and banned construction activities after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency as air quality plummeted.