Around 1800 primary schools in New Delhi have been shut on Saturday, as the national capital’s pollution level becomes more harmful. The decision affects around 9 lakh children studying at schools run by the municipality.
“All municipal schools under the three corporations will be closed on Saturday due to the heavy smog and pollution. The order for closure is only for a day as of now. As per the situation, we may decide to close them later as well,” said Leader of Opposition in SDMC, Subhash Arya on Friday.
Thick, acrid smog has settled over the capital in the past week, a combination of smoke from burning crops in surrounding agricultural states, Diwali fireworks, dust and vehicle emissions.
Data from the city’s pollution monitoring agency showed that concentrations of Particulate Matter or PM 10 (coarser pollutants) was over 1,200 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday morning compared to a safe level of 100 at around 9 am in Delhi’s Anand Vihar. PM 2.5, a standard measure of air quality, was as much as 13 times the safe limit.
The particles are small enough to deeply penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, increasing the risk of stroke and heart failure, and can cause severe respiratory problems including asthma and pneumonia.
On Friday, the environment ministry called a meeting with officials of neighbouring states to discuss ways to combat pollution. The NGT rapped the Delhi government for its failure to control the pollution problem and also called environment secretaries of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan asking them to submit a report on crop burning in their states.