New Delhi: All schools in Delhi will be closed from today till November 5, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday, on a day pollution crisis worsened in the national capital with its air quality index (AQI) falling to ‘severe plus’ or ’emergency’ category for the first time since January.
So bad was the capital’s air on Friday that the authorities were forced to declare an unprecedented public health emergency. A complete ban on construction activities was ordered in Delhi and nearby cities of Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida. A ban was also announced on bursting crackers during the winter season.
Chief Minister Kejriwal, who ended up having a busy Friday, began his day by distributing gas masks to school children. At the event, he called Delhi a gas chamber and blamed Chief Ministers ML Khattar and Captain Amarinder Singh of the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab respectively, for not being able to stop stubble burning in their respective states. Stubble burning, Kejriwal said, was contributing to the rise in pollution levels in Delhi.
At the event, he also took a jibe at the two Chief Ministers, asking the students to write letters to ‘Captain Uncle and Khattar Uncle,’ urging the two leaders to think about the Delhiites’ health.
Later in the day, he also announced that during the implementation of the odd-even rationing scheme in the national capital from November 4-15, no surge pricing would be allowed for cabs plying on respective days.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), too, has come under severe criticism for organising the first T20 International of the three-match India-Bangladesh series at the capital’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on November 3. Amid calls that the tie be shifted from Delhi, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said that the match would go ahead as it would not be possible to shift it at the last moment.
Several Bangladesh players were seen training for the match wearing gas masks.
Delhi is regularly listed as one of the most polluted capital cities as well as one of the most polluted cities of the world. It regularly witnesses smog in post-Diwali days due to crackers burst during the festival as well as stubble burning in the states of Haryana and Punjab.