Delhi shuts schools, 50% GOVT employees to work from home


As Delhi’s air quality remained terribly toxic even on Friday, Delhi government took a series of decisions which may look knee-jerk, but can provide some respite to Delhiites.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that primary schools in Delhi will be shut from tomorrow till the pollution situation improves. “We’re shutting down all primary schools in Delhi from Saturday… Also shutting down outdoor activities for all classes above class 5,” CM Kejriwal said. Kejriwal was addressing a press conference here with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann.
“We’re also mulling whether the odd-even scheme for vehicles should be implemented,” Kejriwal said.
Delhi government also asked half of its employees to do work from home. Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that 50 per cent employees of Delhi government would work from home in view of severe smog situation in Delhi and national capital region. Rai said that an advisory would also be issued to private offices to follow the norm of asking 50 per cent employees to work from home.
In Noida, All schools will hold online classes mandatorily for students from class 1 to class 8 in Gautam Budh Nagar district until 8 November in wake of rising air pollution. According to the notice issued by District Magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar, Dharamveer Singh, schools have also been advised to hold online classes for students studying class 9 to class 12 as much as possible. “All outdoor activities are to be restricted until further notice,” read the notice from District Magistrate Dharamveer Singh.
Air Quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) continued to remain in the “severe” category on Friday, the second straight day. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city jumped to 472. Noida, which is part of the NCR, recorded an AQI of 562, and continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category, while Gurugram’s AQI stood at 539 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’, as per data released by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) India. The SAFAR also revealed that the stubble-burning contributed 34 per cent in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution.
As the situation worsen, Rai convened a high-level meeting on Friday to discuss the implementation of curbs on polluting activities under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan.
Rai said, “Meetings were held with different departments. Plying of trucks except those engaged in essential services will be banned. The commission for air quality management in national capital region and adjoining areas (CAQM) gave new prohibitory orders on Thursday, whereas construction and demolition activities had already been banned in Delhi but some categories were given relaxations. Ban is being imposed on highway, overbridge and pipelines from today.”
Apart from this, diesel vehicles except BS-6 vehicles will be banned. A six-member monitoring committee has also been set up to implement the ban. “Letters are being sent to Haryana and UP CMs to ask them to issue directions to divert vehicles towards eastern and western peripheral coming from their states so that they do not reach the Delhi border area, he added.
The number of CNG and electric vehicles has risen as compared to last year. Transport department has been directed to start 500 private environment bus services, he added. Meetings will be held with RWAs to ask them to provide electric heaters to guards on night duty, he added. Besides, 33 committees have been formed to monitor industries.
Further speaking on pollution earlier during the day, Kejriwal and Mann said that this is not the right time to do politics over the persisting smog situation in Delhi-NCR.
“AAP governments are in Punjab and Delhi. This is not the time to raise fingers or abuse each other. If they say, Kejriwal is responsible and we say they are responsible, this will not solve the problem of smog in NCR,” they added. According to the the Delhi and Punjab CM, the AAP governments are not completely responsible for the pollution.