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 the Delhi-NCR region in the wake of rising level of pollution.
As the pollution level in the region entered the “severe plus” category, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority banned construction activity till November 5 and bursting of crackers during the winter season.
“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.
The chief minister 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 with Sh Bhure Lal ji, EPCA chief. I sought guidance from him and repeated the commitment of our govt in dealing with pollution. I also assured him all cooperation in implementing GRAP and other measures,” Kejriwal said in another tweet.
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.”
Lal said pollution touched “severe plus” levels early on Friday morning but came back to “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.
On Friday morning, Kejriwal distributed masks to school children as part of the government’s initiative to protect them from pollution and also explained children about stubble burning.
He told students that smoke emerging 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.