All schools and colleges in Delhi and nearby cities should be closed till further notice, the Commission for Air Quality Management said late Tuesday night. Our country’s capital battles heavy smog that blankets the city since diwali.
Apart from WFH instructions and the closure of presential classes for schools and colleges, the order also calls for “heavy penalty on persons/organizations responsible for stacking construction materials… or waste on roads in NCR” and “augment the availability of road-sweeping machines in NCR”.
Why this decision was made?
NCR states and Delhi have also been directed to stop the entry of trucks to the national capital, except for those carrying essential commodities. This is also till November 21 and is subject to further review.
Yesterday the Delhi government suggested a weekend lockdown and WFH for a week at an emergency meeting ordered by the top court; the meeting was also attended by officials from the center.
Breathing the Delhi air is “like smoking 20 cigarettes a day,” the state government admitted in the court, stressing, “We agree to the gravity of the situation.”
Delhi and surrounding areas, including Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad, have been choking under a deadly blanket of polluted air for over seven days now – beginning with Diwali on November 4.
Before, during, and after Diwali thousands in burst firecrackers in blatant violation of orders by the Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh governments, contributing greatly to the shocking deterioration of air quality levels.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, at 12.27 am the overall AQI in Delhi was 397, which borders on the ‘severe’ category; readings in excess of 400 are considered ‘severe’ or ‘hazardous’.
At these levels, the polluted air has high concentrations of PM2.5 particles and these can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. With the Indian capital enveloped in a haze of toxic smog, authorities ordered six thermal plants in the city’s vicinity to shut temporarily, closed schools and colleges indefinitely, and imposed work-from-home restrictions to control pollution levels that turned severe on several days this month.
The world’s most polluted capital city has recorded levels for dangerous particles known as PM 2.5 that settle deep inside lungs many times higher than the standards set by the World Health Organization.
The haze that covers the city is a mix of fumes, including vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, construction dust, farm fires, and fumes caused by the burning of waste in the open. In winter, the pollutants hang over the city due to low wind speeds.
City authorities in Delhi have told the Supreme Court they are considering a weekend lockdown, similar to what was implemented during the pandemic. If so, it would be the first of a kind “pollution” lockdown.
Meanwhile, the severe air pollution has led to a public health emergency with many residents in Delhi and other North Indian cities struggling with respiratory problems and doctors warning it is a serious health hazard.
The dirty air kills more than a million people every year in India according to a report by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, a U.S. research group.
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