Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Smog blankets Delhi; people gasp for breath


As Delhi reeled under “severe” pollution, the Delhi government on Friday announced that physical classes for primary grades in the national capital will remain shut from Saturday till further orders while outdoor activities will be curtailed for senior grades.
While parents breathed a sigh of relief, several schools and academicians expressed concern over learning losses due to the frequent closure of schools — earlier in view of the Covid pandemic and now because of deteriorating air quality.
Experts suggested that the government should rejig vacation schedule as pollution turns severe every winter.
“Primary classes will be closed from tomorrow and outdoor activities for classes above fifth standard will be suspended,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said at a press conference. The city continued to reel under the eye-stinging pollution with air quality recorded in the “severe” category even on Friday.
Thick smog blanketed Delhi as the city’s air quality remained in the “severe” zone for the second consecutive day, primarily due to unfavourable meteorological conditions and raging farm fires in Punjab.
An AQI of above 400 is considered “severe” which can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses.
Detailing the anti-pollution curbs in the national capital, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said schools will be asked to curtail outdoor activities of senior students. Several schools in Delhi-NCR and parents of students welcomed the government’s announcement on holding online classes for primary grades in view of rising pollution.
According to Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal of Delhi Public School (DPS), Raj Nagar Extension, the school will conduct online classes during the period.
Delhi Parents Association president Aparajitha Gautam said shutting down of primary schools is a welcome step but questioned why senior classes have not been suspended.
Bharati Chaturvedi, founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, said the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was implemented earlier too and shutting down schools under the action plan is nothing new.
AQI nears ‘Severe plus’: The residents of Delhi and adjoining areas are literally gasping for breath with the air quality (AQI) plunging to the “severe” category and a thick blanket of smog enveloping the entire region.
On Friday morning, the air quality in the national capital jumped to 472. In Noida and Gurugram, it stood at 562 and 593 respectively — an abnormally high level.
It meant that the people were effectively breathing smoke. In some pockets of the city, the index exceeded 800, according Delhi Pollution Control Committee findings.

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