A statutory panel set up by the Supreme Court of India had declared a ‘Health Emergency’ in Delhi due to poor air quality. In a letter to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) said, “The air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has deteriorated to the 'severe plus' level. We have to take this as a public health emergency as it will have adverse impacts on everyone, particularly our children.”
AQI measures the concentration of tiny particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing deadly diseases including cancer and cardiac problems.
Delhi: Schools in Delhi-NCR reopened today. All schools in Delhi-NCR were closed on Nov 14-15 (Thursday & Friday) due to rise in pollution levels. As per the air quality index (AQI) data by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), today RK Puram is at 184 - in 'Moderate' category. pic.twitter.com/W8PZoH0y6o— ANI (@ANI) November 18, 2019
Meanwhile, an online social platform, Local Circles, conducted a survey of parents of schoolchildren in Greater Delhi between 11-15 November, “to check how the government should deal with the closure of schools to protect kids from the dangerous levels of pollution in the air.”
“Residents of Delhi NCR were asked if all schools in Delhi NCR should have a scheduled smog break from 1 – 20 November every year. In response, a whopping 74% of parents agreed with it while only 19% disagreed with it. The poll received 8,762 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Faridabad,” said Local Circles in a press release.
Parents also suggested that the government could, while giving a 20-day “Smog Break”, reduce summer, winter and spring breaks to compensate for the loss. Local Circles said it would take the findings to the education ministers of Delhi and its neighbouring states and the district authorities of these cities.
The government of the national capital region had also announced a Graded Response Action Plan, which included odd-even road rationing, as well as a ban on the entry of trucks and construction activities in a bid to mitigate the air pollution.
AQI in New Delhi on Monday improved considerably to record “Moderate” level pollution with PM2.5 at 190 after breaching the “Severe” level last week.