Nearly 1,700 primary schools under the three municipal corporations in Delhi have been ordered to shut down today due to high air pollution levels in the city.
“The decision was taken at a meeting in the wake of severe pollution that the residents of Delhi are facing. We have decided to keep the schools closed on Saturday, as the smog is worse during morning hours,” SDMC Leader of the House Subhash Arya told reporters here on Friday evening.
"We are deeply concerned about high levels of pollution since Diwali in Delhi. The Corporation has been working on an action plan to overcome the problem of pollution. The Additional Commissioner will monitor the implementation of the plan," Arya added.
About 10 lakh students are enrolled in these schools administered by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
He further said that the Sanitary Inspector and the Assistant Sanitary Inspector concerned will be held responsible for burning of garbage at 'dhalaos' (covered space for storing garbage).
"We have ensured that one responsible employee remains present at each dhalao. The SDMC is striving hard to impose ban on burning of garbage. In case any employee of the Corporation is found burning garbage strict action will be taken against him," he said.
Arya also appealed to the citizens, social organisations and RWAs to come forward to curb the rising pollution.
"It may be mentioned that as per the National Green Tribunal's orders to take action against burning and throwing of garbage in open, the Corporation has instructed for imposition of Rs 5,000 fine," Arya said.
The Corporation has also issued instructions to teachers and students to avoid outside activities in the coming days, in view of the rising pollution levels.
"The schools have also been instructed to hold prayers inside the classrooms and not in the ground. Medical assistance will be provided in case any student complains of respiratory problem," he said.
Delhi's air quality deteriorated to alarming levels and witnessed its worst smog situation in 17 years on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the levels were 9.4 times the standard norms.
However, as per official data, the air quality of Delhi and Gurgaon 'luckily' improved yesterday, as light wind from Rajasthan helped disperse the smog and particle pollutants in the air.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi improved from 432, labelled 'severe' on Thursday and Wednesday, to 372 labelled 'very poor' on Friday. The AQI of Gurgaon also improved from 454 on Thursday to 263 on Friday.
The AQI of Faridabad worsened further from 427 on Thursday to an alarming 453 on Friday. As per weather experts, low wind speed and local emissions could be the reasons for that.
According to data from the Indian Meteorological Department and private weather forecaster Skymet, wind speed on Friday was 8-10 km per hour, while on Thursday and Wednesday it was nil. Due to this, besides some other factors, the smog in Delhi brought down the air quality to alarming levels.
Experts have suggested the ailing persons to stay indoors and cautioned people to avoid outdoor exercises for a few days.
The Central government on Friday asked the states to strictly enforce the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)'s 42-point order issued last year in December. The order contains short, medium and long-term measures to control pollution by curbing crop burning, open garbage burning, among others.