Delhi schools to be shut till November 5 as pollution worsens

PTI New Delhi | Updated on November 02, 2019

A view of Rajpath shrouded in smog in New Delhi on Friday.   -  PTI

Public health emergency declared in Delhi-NCR

The Delhi government on Friday decided to shut all schools till November 5 after a Supreme Court-mandated panel declared a public health emergency in Delhi-NCR in the wake of spike in pollution level.

Read more: Public health emergency declared in ‘gas chamber’ Delhi

As the air quality deteriorated and the pollution level in the region entered the “severe plus” category”, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) banned construction activity till November 5 and bursting of crackers during the winter season.

The Delhi government and municipal authorities also declared holidays in their schools till November 5. “In the wake of rising level of pollution caused by stubble burning, the Delhi government has decided to shut all schools till November 5,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.

Kejriwal also met EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal and assured him of all cooperation in implementing the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). “I had an excellent meeting wid Sh Bhure Lal ji, EPCA chief. I sought guidance from him and reiterated the commitment of our govt in dealing wid pollution. I also assured him all cooperation in implementing GRAP and other measures,” Kejriwal said in another tweet.

Authorities at the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) on Friday announced closure of their schools till Tuesday. Standing Committee Chairman of NDMC Jai Prakash said in view of the increasing air pollution in Delhi it has decided to keep all schools closed till Tuesday.

East Delhi Mayor Anju Kamalkant also announced the closure of all EDMC and affiliated schools till November 5 after the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) declared a public health emergency

“Severe level of pollution is adversely affecting the health of children. In order to reduce the ill effects of pollution especially on school going children, it has been decided to close schools till November 5. The situation later will be reviewed and a decision will be then taken accordingly,” she said.

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) also said the 581 schools under the civic body would be shut till November 5 due to “prevailing poor air quality“.

Public health emergency

The blanket of haze over Delhi thickened on Friday morning with the national capital’s pollution levels increasing overnight.

Lal said pollution touched “severe plus” levels early on Friday morning but came back to the “severe” category later. According to official data, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 1 pm on Friday was recorded at 480, which falls in the “severe” category.

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 emergency’ category.

Meanwhile, in a letter to chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Lal said, “The air quality in Delhi and NCR deteriorated further last night and is now at the severe plus level. We have to take this as a public heath emergency as it will have adverse health impacts on all, particularly our children.”

In an earlier tweet, Kejriwal said Delhi has turned into a “gas chamber” due to smoke arising out of crop burning in Punjab and Haryana. He said the Manohar Lal Khattar government and the Amarinder Singh government were forcing their farmers to indulge in stubble burning causing spike in pollution in the national capital.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal distributed masks to schoolchildren as part of the government’s initiative to protect them from pollution and also explained children about stubble burning. He told students that smoke emanating from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was causing air pollution here and asked them to write letters to chief ministers of the two states urging them to control it.

Published on November 02, 2019

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