Delhi’s primary schools to be closed, 50% of government officials to work from home

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday that primary schools in the nation’s capital would be closed from Saturday, with the air quality index in the city remaining in the “severe” category.

Addressing a press conference with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, party leader Aam Aadmi said outdoor activities for grades 5 and above will be stopped in Delhi schools.

“We are also thinking about implementing an odd-even system for vehicle traffic,” he said. Under this system, cars are only allowed to run on alternate days depending on whether their license plate numbers are even or odd.

Hours later, Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that 50% of staff in government offices will work from home from Monday. A similar notice will also be issued for private offices, Rai said.

Kejriwal, in his press conference earlier on Friday, said deteriorating air quality and pollution levels is a problem facing the whole of northern India.

“Many cities [in North India] suffer from severe air pollution,” he added. “AAP alone or Kejriwal or Delhi and Punjab governments alone are not responsible for this. The central government must take action to reduce pollution.

Kejriwal said the Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab takes full responsibility for the increase in stubble burning in the state.

“It’s only been six months since we formed the government there and there were a lot of issues to deal with,” he said. “A lot of measures have been taken and I think that by next year the incidents of thatch burning will decrease.”

Delhi’s chief minister said now is not the time for blame games or politics as residents struggle to breathe. “We have said it many times, the central government must move forward and take specific measures,” he added.

Air quality deteriorates sharply during the winter months in Delhi, which is often ranked the most polluted capital in the world. Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, as well as falling temperatures, low wind speeds and emissions from coal-fired industries and power plants contribute to air pollution.

As of 11:50 a.m. on Friday, data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, or SAFAR, showed that Delhi’s air quality index stood at 437. An air quality index between 401 and 500 falls into the “severe” category. A reading above 400 can affect healthy people and have a serious impact on those with existing illnesses.

Smoke from farm fires contributed 38% of the tiny, lung-damaging PM 2.5 pollutants in the city’s air on Thursday the highest this season, PTI reported. Last year, the share of farm fires in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution rose to 48% on November 7.

SC to hear plea against stubble burning

The Supreme Court on Friday entered a plea to restrict stubble burning in Punjab for a November 10 hearing. Live Act reported.

A bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi took note of Barrister Shashank Shekhar Jha’s comments, saying “even normal people cannot walk in such a situation” because the pollution situation of the air worsened due to stubble burning in nearby areas. in Delhi.

Human rights body summons officials

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission on Friday asked the chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to appear before the panel on November 10.

Dissatisfied with the measures taken to control air pollution, the commission asked the chief secretaries about the measures taken by their governments to stop the burning of stubble in their regions.

“Their reports should also inform on the effect of smog towers and smog guns on the number of these operational smog guns and what actions the NCT government should take. [National Capital Territory] of Delhi and the concerned governments take in the near future,” a statement read. “The Punjab and Haryana report must also inform specifically about the effect of the in situ crop residue management program.”

Taken measures

Due to the deteriorating situation, the National Capital Region Air Quality Management Commission had banned the circulation of diesel four-wheelers in Delhi on Thursday.

On Friday, Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai said his government had decided to implement anti-pollution measures recommended by the Air Quality Management Commission, including banning light vehicles with non-BS VI diesel engines.

Party leader Aam Aadmi added that some construction and demolition activities that were allowed to continue under the already existing ban will also be halted from Friday. “Constructions of highways, flyovers, overpasses and pipelines of the Delhi Jal board, as well as power transmission works will also be banned from today,” Rai said.

In addition, the Delhi government said it had formed a six-member team of senior officials to monitor the implementation of restrictions on pollution control activities. Special task forces will also be set up to reduce air pollution in Delhi’s hotspots, Rai said.

Parents and environmental activists on Twitter have demanded schools shut, saying it’s not normal to breathe “500+ AQI” at a time when one in three children are suffering from lung disease.

According to the University of Chicago’s Air Quality Life Index Energy Policy Institute released in June, residents of Delhi risk losing 10 years of life expectancy due to poor air quality.

Read also :

  1. Why Punjab farmers are rejecting solutions to curb stubble burning
  2. India’s Rs 12,000 crore fund to tackle air pollution goes up in smoke

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