Indian capital to shut primary schools over air pollution
NEW DELHI — Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday that primary schools in the Indian capital region will be closed in the wake of increasing levels of air pollution.
The schools would be closed from Saturday.
“We’re taking all steps to control the pollution situation. Meanwhile, we’re shutting down all primary schools in Delhi from tomorrow,” Kejriwal told a press conference.
Kejriwal said his government was also contemplating bringing back odd-even traffic rationing measures for vehicles in the capital city.
The air pollution level in Delhi became severe on Friday for the second consecutive day.
“This is not the time for blame game and politics, but time to find a solution to the problem,” he said.
“Since our government is in Punjab, we are responsible for the stubble burning. It has been only six months since we formed the government there and there were issues that were being addressed. We are finding solutions. Give us a year’s time to address the issue,” Kejriwal said.
On Wednesday, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav blamed Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for turning the capital into a “gas chamber” and accused it of a “scam”.
Yadav said there has been an increase in farm fires in Punjab, a state also governed by the AAP.
Kejriwal promised that by November of next year, stubble burning will be reduced.
The Indian capital Delhi is among the topmost polluted cities in the world.
Industrial activities and vehicular traffic are significant contributors to air pollution in the city, along with rampant construction. For the past years, air quality in Delhi becomes hazardous ahead of winter every year.
Reports said several residents have reported breathing difficulties, with the elderly and schoolchildren being the worst hit.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality is severe and prominent pollutants are PM 2.5 and PM 10.
Experts say PM 2.5 are fine particles that are 2.5 microns or less in diameter and can travel deep into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs and entering the bloodstream.
Health officials have advised people, especially those with respiratory illness, in Delhi to minimize outdoor exposure until the improvement in air quality.