Delhi’s schools will switch to online classes starting Monday, all construction activities will be closed and government offices will work from home, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday, as the national capital battles the toxic smog that has covered the city for over a week. now.
The WFH order for government offices is also, for now, for seven days.
However, construction work, among those that contribute to dust and microscopic pollutants in the air, will only be closed for four days, from November 14 to 17, the Chief Minister said.
Kejriwal’s four-step pollution control plan, which includes planning for a city-wide shutdown, comes hours after an angry Supreme Court demanded that the government in central and Delhi prioritize an emergency response. on long-term efforts to address the problem.
“For a week starting Monday, schools will be physically closed (they can continue virtually) so that children do not have to breathe polluted air. Construction activities will not be allowed between November 14 and 17,” Kejriwal told journalists.
“Government offices will operate from home (WFH) at 100 percent capacity for one week. Private offices will be advised to opt for the WFH option as much as possible,” he said.
Delhi and the surrounding areas, including Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad, have been suffocating under a deadly blanket of polluted air for more than seven days, starting with Diwali last week.
Before, during and after Diwali, thousands of people in these and other areas set off firecrackers in flagrant violation of orders from the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, contributing greatly to the shocking deterioration in quality standards. from air.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, at 6.30pm the overall AQI in Delhi was 427.
AQI readings greater than 400 are considered “severe” or “dangerous.” At these levels, polluted air has high concentrations of PM2.5 particles and these can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer.
Air quality levels in Delhi have also been affected by farmers in nearby areas burning stubble, another annual problem that increases pollutants in the atmosphere.
Chief Justice NV Ramana said: “You see how dire the situation is … even in our homes, we wear masks. Tell us how you plan to take emergency measures. Two-day closure? What’s your plan? to reduce the AQI? “
Breathing the air of Delhi is “like smoking 20 cigarettes a day,” the state government admitted in court, emphasizing that “we agree with the seriousness of the situation.”
The Chief Justice warned the center to look beyond politics and work with the Arvind Kejriwal government to solve what is an annual (and worsening) problem in the city.
In a harsh reprimand to the Delhi government, the court said: “You opened all the schools two weeks ago … All the children are exposing their lungs to this dangerous air.”
The court also questioned the center’s plans to stop stubble burning, and was not much impressed that Punjab farmers were blamed.
“Why do you project that (the) pollution is due to farmers? It’s just a certain percentage of pollution. What about the rest? What are you doing to control pollution in Delhi? Tell us what the plan is … not about 2-3 days, “the court insisted.