Schools shut in Delhi due to air pollution; no lockdown for now

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New Delhi | Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced to shut down physical classes in schools for a week due to the ‘severe’ air quality, adding that the government is “not imposing a lockdown at this moment”.

“Starting Monday, physical classes in schools would be shut for a week. Virtual classes would continue for the students in the meantime. This measure would particularly protect the children from inhaling toxic air,” Kejriwal said after holding an emergency meeting on Saturday evening over the deteriorating state of the national capital’s air quality which is reeling under the ‘severe’ category.

He said that a suggestion had come up during the court hearing on whether Delhi can move into a complete lockdown to tackle the pollution situation.

“We are working on the suggestion and taking into account all the aspects of such a step. We are not imposing a lockdown at this moment, as assessing the impact first is paramount,” he said.

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“We are drafting a proposal in this prospect and will place it in front of the court in the next hearing. This will be the most extreme step if at all it is taken, so all agencies concerned with the matter will be consulted at length first.

“The Centre, along with the CPCB and SAFAR, will be taken into confidence prior to such a decision. If a lockdown like situation comes into place, then all the vehicular, industrial and construction activity may be shut. This is still in the proposal stage and would be placed in front of the court first,” he added.

Meanwhile, it has been decided to put construction activities on hold for three days — from November 14-17.

“Winds are not really being expected during the said period, and we all know that stubble burning pollution would in any case penetrate into Delhi, creating a fatal situation. Thus, we have taken the hard step of having to pull the plug on construction activities for now,” the Chief Minister said.

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“All the government offices will function in a work from home manner for a week. All the government offices will be shut… but it is not a holiday. The entire workforce will continue to work remotely for this week.

“The officers will have to be available in the situation of an emergency call. An advisory on similar lines would be issued for the private offices to work from home as much as they can,” Kejriwal said.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Environment Minister Gopal Rai, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot along with Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev and other officials.

IANS

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