All schools will remain closed till Tuesday (November 5) in Delhi due to rise in pollution levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejrilwal announced on Friday that schools will stay shut following rise in pollution levels due to stubble burning. The announcement came after the central pollution control body declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR as the Air Quality Index breached hazardous levels on Friday. Earlier, the education department of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had ordered closure of 581 schools under the civic body on Monday due to "prevailing poor air quality".
Delhi is hoping for favourable meteorological conditions to blow away the toxic air, as health experts said the hazardous air pollution has become a serious health concern for about 2 crore residents. Weather experts said increased wind speed due to a fresh western disturbance approaching the northern region would help disperse pollutants faster from Saturday.
"In wake of rising level of pollution caused by stubble burning, the Delhi government has decided to shut schools till November 5," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
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Earlier, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had urged the Delhi chief minister to declare holiday in schools.
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On Friday morning, CM Kejriwal distributed anti-pollution masks to school students on Friday morning. Kejriwal took to Twitter and shared the photos of the event. “Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed,” he tweeted.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has banned construction till November 5 and bursting of crackers through the winter season in the region. Delhi's air quality dropped to 'emergency' category for the first time since January. The AQI was registered at scary 491 in Anand Vihar area. Even at 8 am, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was hovering at 459 at 8 am on Friday after pollution levels breached the ‘severe+’ zone late on Thursday night. ITO was no different with AQI at 477. AQI in Lodhi Road area was at 461 at 10 am.
The AQI takes into account five chief pollutants - particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometres (PM10), PM2.5, ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO). The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and health concerns.