Delhi shuts schools after court warning to curb pollution

Dec 2, 2021: Delhi, the capital of India, has ordered the closure of schools and colleges from Friday until further notice after the Supreme Court criticized the state government for reopening educational institutions despite “extremely bad” air quality.

The Delhi government last week decided to reopen schools and colleges after being closed for about 15 days due to rising air pollution.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court, which is hearing a public petition on the government’s inability to reduce air pollution, expressed its displeasure over the Delhi authorities’ decision to reopen schools and colleges and gave the authorities 24 hours to lower the level.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the ban on construction and entry of diesel trucks with non-essential goods would remain in place. Rai also asked people to use public transport. The Delhi government has hired an additional 700 natural gas buses to encourage people to use public transport. He said the government would step up various measures to control dust, such as the use of fire trucks for spraying water. Delhi’s polluted air is admitting more children to hospital with difficulty breathing, raising concerns among parents.

According to the monitoring company IQAir, the level of PM2.5 in the city – the most harmful particles responsible for chronic lung and heart disease – was about 215 micrograms per cubic meter.

That is 14 times the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.

A Lancet report last year said that air pollution in Delhi in 2019 killed about 17,500 people. A report by IQAir last year found that 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India.

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