All schools and colleges in the capital will remain shut till Sunday due to alarming levels of pollution, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Wednesday.

Manish Sisodia, who is also Delhi Education Minister, wrote on Twitter saying, “Delhi’s air quality is getting worse. In this situation, there can be no compromise on children’s health.” and added that since the air quality in the capital is ‘severe’, all Delhi “public” and “private schools” will remain closed till “Sunday”.

The directive came as the air quality in Delhi and NCR dropped to the “severe” level with an average range of dangerous PM2.5 particles measured at 475 micrograms per cubic meter in the region.

The “severe” level between 400 and 500 of PM2.5 “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”, according to Central Pollution Control Board.

On Wednesday, Delhi woke up to yet another day of smog after air quality levels in the capital remained ‘severe’ category.  The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has announced a “public health emergency”. The worsening air quality is a combined effect of smoke from stubble burning and moisture

On Tuesday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced during a press conference on the issue of worsening air quality in Delhi-NCR region, that all primary schools (till 5th standard) will be closed for one-day.

Deputy CM Sisodia also urged parents to ensure their children wear masks.

He also asked people to refrain form burning materials like wood, leaves and waste for sometime.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia advised schools to temporarily suspend all outdoor activities including assemblies, after the air quality level reached ‘severe’ on Tuesday.

Sisodia also issued an advisory for senior citizens and people with ‘respiratory issues’ to avoidtaking morning and evening walks.

Sisodia said that the air quality will be monitored for further decisions.

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Earlier, Earlier, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced his recommendation to close schools in Delhi, after pollution in the capital were registered at ‘severe level’.

ALSO READ: Air pollution hits ‘severe’ levels in Delhi

Kejriwal also said that Delhi has become a ‘gas chamber’ and underlined the need for a solution regarding ‘crop burning’ by adjoining states.

Air quality

Earlier on Tuesday, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded ‘severe’ air quality, meaning that the intensity of pollution was extreme.

CPCB, monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR recorded Air Quality Index (AQIs) as high as 446 at 9.30am on Tuesday. The lowest AQI was in Gurgaon at 357 at 9.30am, which is classified as very poor, according to media reports.

The last time air had turned ‘severe’ was on October 20, a day after Diwali festivities, when firecrackers were set off.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said visibility in New Delhi was at 200m around 5.30 am on Tuesday. In Noida, AQI was 430 at 9.30am, according to media reports.

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Masks for CISF personnel

Meanwhile, the CISF ordered issuance of over 9,000 face masks for it00s personnel deployed to guard the IGI Airport, the Delhi Metro and other government ministries and installations.

A senior officer of the paramilitary force said CISF Director General (DG) O P Singh said, “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.”

NGT slams state governments

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar have lambasted the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi for not being prepared in advance to tackle the ‘emergency situation’.

“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 bench said.

It asked the state governments to explain why they had not taken preventive and precautionary measures as it was reported earlier that such a situation was likely to arise.

The tribunal rapped the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab over the spike in pollution in the city and asked why choppers were not used to sprinkle water to control dust pollution.

Seeking replies from these state governments along with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in two days, the tribunal said a sharp spike in air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region is “choking children”.

“Children can’t breathe… what will you do?” NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Delhi government.

“Why are you not sprinkling water by using helicopters.”

The bench, while hearing a plea filed by advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, asked these state governments on the steps taken by them to check air quality in their respective jurisdictions.

(With agency inputs)