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Intense smog forces Delhi to shut schools

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo
  • Niharika Sharma
By Niharika Sharma

Reporter based in New Delhi.

Published Last updated

The smog in Delhi is so severe now that authorities have shut down schools in the city.

The government in the city, as also those in adjoining states, today (Nov. 17) invoked strict measures, among which is an indefinite shut-down of five of the eleven coal-based power plants in the region.

Similar drastic measures were taken in 2019, too.

Despite a slight improvement over the past two days, the presence of harmful particles in Delhi’s air was still as high as seven times the safe level. On Nov. 17, in some areas within the city, the toxic particles were above 300 micrograms per cubic meter. The World Health Organization designates the safe level for the tiny, poisonous particles at 25.

Meanwhile, the air quality in Delhi is expected to further deteriorate before the arrival of cold winds next week that will blow away the smog.

The emergency measures announced today came even as India’s supreme court deliberates a proposal to put Delhi under lockdown till the smog lifts. Earlier this week, calling the situation “very serious“, the court had sought an emergency plan from prime minister Narendra Modi’s government.

On Nov. 16, the Commission for Air Quality Management had banned construction activities within the Delhi national capital region—which includes area and cities neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana—until Nov. 21. It directed these states to encourage work-from-home for at least 50% of the staff in private offices.

The union government, however, today expressed its unwillingness in the supreme court to ask its employees to work remotely. It said it had advised its staff in Delhi to opt for carpooling.

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