Delhi primary schools to remain shut till Nov.10 amidst high air pollution levels - GulfToday

Delhi primary schools to remain shut till Nov.10 amidst high air pollution levels


A man exercises on a playground of the school after primary classes were ordered shut by the Delhi government as the air pollution increased. Reuters

Primary schools in India's capital city will remain closed until Nov.10 due to high pollution levels, a Delhi government minister said in a post on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

New Delhi is blanketed in acrid smog every autumn, primarily blamed on stubble burning by farmers in the neighbouring agrarian states.

The city is regularly ranked as one of the most polluted on the planet, with its annual smog blamed for hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.

"As pollution levels continue to remain high, primary schools in Delhi will stay closed till 10th November," said Delhi Education Minister Atishi Marlena.

For Grade 6-12, schools are being given the option of shifting to online classes, she added.

Onlineclass-Delhi A teacher conducts online classes in an empty classroom using a mobile phone after primary schools were ordered shut by the Delhi government. Reuters

New Delhi stands on top of a real-time list of the world's most polluted cities compiled by Swiss group IQAir. The city's air quality index (AQI) on Sunday was 471, putting it in the "hazardous" category. It was followed by Lahore in Pakistan at a "very unhealthy" of 261.

The Indian capital — which has a population of 30 million — once again ranked as the world's most polluted city Sunday, according to monitoring firm IQAir.

Delhi state annually imposes restrictions on construction activities and orders some vehicles off roads when pollution reaches severe levels.

But critics say that governments wilfully ignore the agricultural primary source of the public health crisis. The farmers in neighbouring states are a powerful electoral lobby and leaders have long resisted calls to impose strict fines and other punitive measures on them for their actions.

DelhiStadium-fog Volunteers carry a giant Bangladesh national flag amid smoggy conditions on the eve of the World Cup match in New Delhi. AFP

New Delhi is set to host a cricket World Cup match on Monday between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. But both teams cancelled their scheduled pre-match training sessions in recent days over health risks from the smog. The toxic air on Saturday had forced Sri Lanka to cancel their training session.

‘No choice'

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha admitted on Sunday that they have "no choice" but to play. "We were concerned. We are trying to minimise our exposure to the outdoors as much as possible," he told reporters.

"The air quality is affecting both teams. It's not ideal, but we have no choice. We have to play in the conditions in front of us." Some asthmatic players had not attended training, he added. Severe smog levels are expected to persist in the city for several more weeks.

Levels of the most dangerous PM2.5 particles — so tiny they can enter the bloodstream — reached 570 micrograms per cubic metre on Sunday according to IQAir, nearly 40 times the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation.


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