All schools in Delhi-NCR region are closed today and tomorrow after the Supreme Court-mandated anti-pollution authority EPCA on Wednesday gave the order as pollution in the city hovered close to ’emergency’ levels.
“Keeping in mind the hazardous exposure to children, the CPCB Task Force has recommended, which the EPCA is directing, that all schools must remain shut for the next two days,” the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said in a letter to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
Following the order, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said that all private and government schools will be shut on Thursday and Friday.
“In view of the deteriorating air quality due to stubble burning in north India, Delhi government has decided to close schools on Thursday and Friday,” Sisodia tweeted in Hindi.
The Directorate of Education said the steps are being taken keeping in view the hazardous levels of air pollution.
“All the government, government-aided, private recognised (unaided) schools, including those run by the local bodies, are hereby ordered to remain closed till November 15,” an order from the Directorate of Education read.
This is the second time the Delhi government has closed schools on the orders of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.
Earlier on November 1, the Supreme Court-appointed panel had declared a public health emergency after air quality in the NCR region dipped to 410, following which schools were closed till November 5.
The pollution control body also banned construction activity till November 5 and bursting of crackers during the winter season.
Meanwhile, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has advised people to avoid outdoor exposure and work from home.
Separate orders were also issued by the district administrations of the adjoining Uttar Pradesh districts following directions from the EPCA.
The ban on the hot-mix plants and stone-crushers in Delhi-NCR has been extended till the morning of November 15, it said.
On November 4, the apex court banned construction and demolition activities in the region till further orders.
All coal and other fuel-based industries, which have now shifted to natural gas or agro-residue, will remain shut in Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bahadurgarh, Bhiwadi, Greater Noida, Sonepat, Panipat till November 15, the EPCA said.
In Delhi, industries which are yet to shift to piped natural gas will not operate during the period.
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that the government “may extend the Odd-Even road rationing scheme if required”.
The Odd-Even scheme that began on November 4 for 12 days was relaxed on November 11 and 12 for the celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
The suspension of the Odd-Even rule for three days has created a tremendous impact on the air quality in the national capital as the AQI is at emergency levels again on Wednesday with an overall count of 476.
Last week, the apex court had pulled up the Centre and state governments for their inability to curb stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and bring air pollution in Delhi under control.