New Delhi: The Delhi government on Friday decided to shut all schools till November 5 after a Supreme Court mandated panel declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region in the wake of rising levels of pollution.
As the air pollution reached alarming levels, hospitals reported a surge in the number of patients suffering from respiratory and breathing complications, with doctors advising residents, especially children and the elderly, to stay indoors as much as possible. “Patients are coming with complaints of watery eyes, cough, breathing difficulty, allergy, exacerbation of asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases,” AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said, adding that children and those above the age of 60 are the worst affected.
Besides affecting the lungs, high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere cause inflammation in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of arteries, which can act as a trigger for stroke or heart attack in persons already at risk of the disease, Dr Guleria explained.
In a tweet, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Delhi has turned into a “gas chamber” due to smoke arising out of crop burning in Punjab and Haryana.
He said that the Manohar Lal Khattar government and Captain Amrinder Singh government were forcing their farmers to indulge in stubble burning causing spike in pollution in the national capital.
Stubble burning biggest bane for capital
Stubble burning in the neighbouring states has been one of the major contributors to pollution in the national capital. On Thursday, stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana contributed to 27 per cent pollution in Delhi while on Wednesday the contribution was recorded at 35 per cent, the highest so far.
Kejriwal also distributed masks to school children as part of the government’s initiative to protect them from pollution and also explained the children about stubble burning.
He told students that smoke emanating from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was causing air pollution here and asked them to write letters to the chief ministers of the two states urging them to control it.
As the pollution level in the region entered the ‘severe plus’ category, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) banned construction activity till November 5 and bursting of crackers during the winter season.
“In the wake of the rising level of pollution caused by stubble burning, the Delhi government has decided to shut all schools till November 5,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
The blanket of haze over Delhi thickened on Friday morning....