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Delhi air pollution highlights: All primary schools to remain closed on Wednesday, says Manish Sisodia

As the air quality dropped to 'severe' in Delhi NCR, the Indian Medical Association on Tuesday declared the city as a public health emergency.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 7, 2017 8:53:16 pm
A school bus met with an accident near Ghadi village in Hansi town, which is about 8 km from the Rohtak-Hisar highway, due to dense fog on Tuesday. Officials said the injured children were admitted to a hospital in Hansi town. (Express Photo)

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said all primarily schools in Delhi would be shut on Wednesday after air quality dropped to ‘severe’ on Tuesday as pollution levels breached permissible standards multiple times. He also asked children and the elderly to avoid outdoor activities and told schools not to conduct assemblies in the open. Moreover, some schools like Shiv Nadar in Noida, have suspended outdoor activities for this week

Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the national capital had become a a “gas chamber” with a thick haze blanketing the city. “Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of year. We have to find a soln to crop burning in adjoining states,” Kejriwal tweeted.

The last time the air quality was ‘severe’ was on October 20, a day after Diwali, reported news agency PTI. Since then, air quality has been at ‘very poor’ level.

Here are the highlights of the day:

7. 45 pm: Thanks for joining our live blog. A wrap of all the day’s events will be up soon

6.12 pm: Outdoor activities, including assemblies, should not take place in schools, says Manish Sisodia

6.00 pm: All primary schools will remain closed on Wednesday, if needed we will extend the order till day after, says  deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia

5.06 pm: Manish Sisodia has called a meeting at 5.30pm with Education, Health and Environment Department officials with Tuesday’s pollution data and all relevant studies

5.00 pm: The EPCA said the Delhi government should immediately start preparing for imposition of some tough  conditions, if weather and pollution conditions aggravated further. “Stop entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except essential commodities). Delhi, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan sjould start preparations as soon as possible,” EPCA said

4.22 pm: Speaking on the blanket of smog that engulfed the national capital on Tuesday, Delhi High Court said, “Stubble burning may be the visible villain but there are other contributory factors too.” The HC asked Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan to inform it about action taken against stubble burning. “Situation is grave in wake of advisories issued against sending children to school and discouraging morning walks,” the HC observed

3.50 pm: As the air quality in Delhi dropped to “severe” on Tuesday, the Environment Pollution (Preventiontion and Control) Authority suggested that parking fees be quadrupled. It also asked Delhi Metro to lower fares during non-peak hours for at least 10 days and introduce more coaches. For construction agencies violating dust pollution norms in Delhi-NCR, the EPCA recommended they be fined Rs 50,000. It also asked the government to consider odd-even policy if pollution aggravated.

3.37 pm: “It is alarming, measures are being taken. Have advised water sprinkling particularly at construction sites,” said MoS Environment M Sharma

2.37 pm: There’s a lot of buzz on social media around this picture of Belgium’s King Philippe inspects a military guard of honour at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today. The picture, captured by many agencies, reveals the dangerous quality of air guests are being exposed to when the visit the national capital.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi, Indian Medical Association, Delhi pollution, Delhi schools, Delhi smog, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi news, Indian Express Belgium’s King Philippe inspects a military guard of honour, surrounded by smog, at the Presidential palace in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. The Belgian royal couple are on a seven day state visit to India. (AP Photo)

Not convinced? Here’s another picture.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi, Indian Medical Association, Delhi pollution, Delhi schools, Delhi smog, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi news, Indian Express Presidential staff members are surrounded by smog at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.  (AP Photo)

Tell us what you think about the air quality today in the comment section below!

2.27 pm: Here’s a guide to the air quality in and around Delhi today.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi, Indian Medical Association, Delhi pollution, Delhi schools, Delhi smog, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi news, Indian Express

2.20 pm: Security personnel who guard the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the Delhi Metro, government ministries and other installations in the national capital have been given masks by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to combat the smog in Delhi. At least 9,000 masks were distributed today.

“While 2,000 protective face masks are being issued immediately, 7,000 more will be sent to all the units in Delhi in the next few hours,” Director General (DG) O P Singh said, reported PTI.

In pictures: Delhi wakes up to thick smog, little visibility; IMA, Delhi CM hit panic button

2.17 pm: In the letter written to the Delhi government by the Indian Medical Association, its national president Dr K K Aggarwal and secretary general Dr R N Tandon said, “All outdoor sports, marathons and other outdoor activities in schools should be stopped. Children are more prone to harmful effects of air pollution as their lungs are still growing.”

2.15 pm: In its order to the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana government, the National Green Tribunal sought explanations by tomorrow on measures being taken to reduce pollution. The bench, headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, said, “The ambient air quality is so bad that children are not able to breath properly. Why didn’t you not spray water using helicopters as per our direction? You take instructions and inform us day after tomorrow.” The tribunal was hearing a plea seeking immediate action in the capital.

1.28 pm: If the situation further deteriorates, the task force under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) will consider re-introducing the odd-ever car scheme, reports PTI. The rule, which was first introduced as an experiment by the Kejriwal government in January 2016, allows cars to ply roads only on certain days of the week, depending on the number plates.

1.18 pm: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has appealed to Education Minister Manish Sisodia to consider closing schools for a few days. In a tweet, Kejriwal said, “Considering high level of pollution, I have requested Sh Manish Sisodia, Education Minister, to consider closing schools for a few days.”

1.04 pm: Here’s a picture taken by our photojournalist. Can you see anything?!

12.52 pm: The National Green Tribunal has slammed the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana government over deteriorating air quality, reports PTI. It has directed the government to explain what preventive steps have been taken to deal with the situation today.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi, Indian Medical Association, Delhi pollution, Delhi schools, Delhi smog, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi news, Indian Express The IMA has advised the Delhi government to shut schools in the wake of ‘severe’ air quality (Express Photo/Praveen Khanna)

12.41 pm: A quick explanation of the terminology: ‘severe’ air quality affects healthy people and has serious impacts on those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, while ‘very poor’ air is a warning that people many develop respiratory illness on prolonged exposure.

12.36 pm: It’s not just Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad are also facing ‘severe’ levels of pollution today. Real-time pollution monitors have recorded alarmingly high concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air.

12.30 pm: Wondering what the cause of this sudden severe pollution is? According to the Central Pollution Control Board, moisture in the air coupled with a complete absence of wind has led to this situation. “Total calm conditions, marked by the complete absence of wind has led to the situation. The moisture has trapped emissions from ground level sources,” Dipankar Saha, CPCB’s air lab chief, was quoted as saying by PTI.

12.28 pm: The runway at Indira Gandhi International Airport has been closed due to the smog in the city.  Over 20 flights have been delayed so far, reports ANI.

Delhi air pollution, Delhi, Indian Medical Association, Delhi pollution, Delhi schools, Delhi smog, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi news, Indian Express Delhi was enveloped by thick smog on Tuesday morning (Express Photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

12.25 pm: Rail traffic has been affected due to the smog, with at least 12 trains delayed due to decreased visibility, reports ANI.

12.15 pm: As the air quality dropped to ‘severe’, the Indian Medical Association has declared Delhi as a public health emergency. It has appealed to the government to consider closing schools and asking people not to step out of their houses.

“IMA declares Delhi in public health emergency state, schools should be shut and people must avoid stepping out,” IMA president Dr KK Aggarwal says, reports ANI.

The body has also asked the government to cancel the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in light of the situation.

(With inputs from agencies)

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