Fury in Delhi as smog engulfs children’s race

New Delhi, Nov 14 (AFP/APP): Hundreds of children ran a charity road race through poisonous smog in New Delhi on Thursday, triggering a storm of criticism about the damage to their health.

Delhi and other cities in northern India have again been blanketed by haze that hits each winter due to build-up of vehicle fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from agricultural fires in regions around the capital.

The toxic air in the capital has taken pollution levels to almost 20 times World Health Organisation safe limits — causing authorities to close all schools until Friday, ban construction and impose road rationing for drivers with odd number registrations one day and even the next.

But despite the conditions, children as young as nine competed in a road race through the city organised by a non-profit organisation to mark International Children’s Day.

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The decision to go ahead with the race caused a storm of social media anger.

“I feel all these organisers need to be sued,” said Tamanna Sharma, head of an environmental service consultancy on Twitter. “Running in this air quality is a death sentence.”

“This is the most idiotic thing to do,” said an Indian Forestry Service officer Parveen Kaswan on Twitter.