Air quality levels in the national capital will come back to normal within the “next few days”, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday, while adding that pollution levels had dropped considerably over the last 24 hours. “Whether the steps which have to be taken by the Delhi government, they should be doing it in complete, total sincerity and similarly the state governments of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan.. They all have to step in to fulfil their part of the responsibility.

“And I am sure in the very near future, in the next few days, things will return to normal,” he told reporters on sidelines of an event organised at the National Institute of Oceanography near here. The national capital has been affected by severe air pollution and smog, forcing the Delhi government to close down schools in order to prevent students from being affected by the poor air quality and take several other emergency measures.

Harsh Vardhan also said that the situation “actually gets precipitated because of weather conditions”. “There was some moisture which came from Eastern UP and then wind speed and all is not there. That is why this particulate matter accumulated in the atmosphere,” he said.

“It is expected that in the next 24 hours, the wind speed will further improve and with all these measures that are being taken by the various governments and the Central government, we are trying to ensure that the immediate action plan is implemented in totality,” he added.

He also said that there was no reason for panic, while also advising residents of Delhi to stay indoors. Harsh Vardhan, who is an MP from Delh, also said that a series of measures had been undertaken by the Central government as well as governments in the National Capital Region to curb pollution and that all the states were following a detailed action plan.

“We have reinforced our instructions, we are monitoring at our level and I think, most of the actions that need to be done, like, say, closing of Badarpur thermal plant, ensuring that all these stone crushers are all closed,” he said.

He said that they have also asked the Delhi government to sprinkle water on the roads, use mechanical means for dust removal from the roads and improve public transport. “We have simultaneously instructed neighbouring states also to ensure that the crop (stubble) burning should stop immediately,” said Harsh Vardhan, adding that “all these measures which need to be taken as an emergency, have been taken and I think from yesterday, to today, things have become better”.