Schools in Delhi were ordered to remain shut till November 5 by the Government as a public health emergency was declared. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted “Due to stubble burning, the pollution level in Delhi is very high, hence the government has decided to shut all schools till November 5.”

Air quality in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) has deteriorated further owing to continued stubble burning. It is now 425 which falls under “severe” category. According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) bulletin, Thursday was the most polluted day in October this year.

“For the last four years, my daughter’s school has begged us to send them with vog masks, has put air purifiers in every classroom… but the government, assisted by the public, has to sort this out with intelligence, effort and vision.”

Reasons

The quality of air became poor post-Diwali. It is worsening as stubble burning continues in parts of Punjab and Haryana despite a ban.

The situation is so grave that the AQI entered the “severe-plus” or “emergency” category late Thursday night, the first time since January this year.

Air quality in severe category

If the air quality persists in the “severe-plus” category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing schemes, banning entry of trucks, construction activities and shutting down schools are taken under the Graded Response Action Plan, an official said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the city looks like a gas chamber. He also distributed breathing masks among school children and blamed the governments of neighbouring states Haryana and Punjab for “forcing farmers to burn stubble” which has aggravated the problem in the capital.

Also: Air Pollution Can Reach The Fetal Side Of Placentas In The Womb

Rashmi Menon, mother of a six-year-old told SheThePeople.TV “As a parent, I am disappointed to see that despite such high levels of pollution and smog, schools were not shut earlier As my daughter suffers from asthma, we tried to escape the immediate after-effects of Diwali’s cracker bursting by running off to the hills for a few days. But now that we are back, missing school is not really an option. Having said that, shutting schools during periods of severe air quality is not a permanent solution. The citizens and the government have to work together, sincerely, to consciously do our bits to reduce pollution. There is no escaping it otherwise.”

The situation is so grave that the AQI entered the “severe-plus” or “emergency” category late Thursday night, the first time since January this year.

Another parent Leher Sethi says “Delhi has become a gas chamber, and this is a health emergency! Why did it take so long for the Delhi Govt to shut down schools? AQI in my son’s school is 500!! Bangkok shut down schools earlier this year at 160 citing damage to kids! In this air, matured lungs are smoking equivalent to 25 cigarettes a day. Think what it must be doing to those little lungs? This is beyond hazardous! Children are better off at home, since they won’t have to travel to and from school and be exposed. Once in school, they bounce and play, and no amount of cajoling cab stop that.”

While Rukmini Kumar says, “For the last four years, my daughter’s school has begged us to send them with vog masks, has put air purifiers in every classroom… but the government, assisted by the public, has to sort this out with intelligence, effort and vision.”

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.