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New pollution control orders: Schools and colleges to remain shut in all NCR districts


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NEW DELHI: The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) for Delhi-NCR late on Thursday ordered the closure of all schools and colleges in NCR districts till further orders. The commission also directed the formation of a specialised taskforce in Delhi and each of the NCR states to ensure that the pollution control directions being issued by it are being followed in their respective jurisdiction.

The directions came after the Supreme Court pulled up the Delhi government on its failure to curb rising pollution levels and gave the Centre 24 hours to find a way to check if the measures are being implemented on the ground.

The CAQM late on Thursday night (December 2) issued two separate orders directing the formation of a dedicated taskforce for Delhi and each of the NCR states, and also issued a revised set of restrictions that will be put in place for pollution control in the NCR.

Whiles schools have already been shut in Delhi, the CAQM directed that all schools, colleges, libraries and educational institutions in NCR will remain physically closed till further orders. Industries in the region operating on non-PNG or other unapproved fuels will be allowed to operate only for eight hours a day from Monday to Friday. These industries will have to remain closed for operations on Saturdays and Sundays.

The entry of trucks into Delhi, except those carrying essential items, will also continue to remain banned, the CAQM order said.

On the direction of the SC, the Delhi government had on Thursday ordered the closure of all schools and educational institutions as a step to protect schoolchildren from the dangerous pollution levels in the national capital. Besides, Delhi also currently has a ban on construction activities. The Delhi government is yet to review the measures it had announced for pollution control last month.

Delhi's 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) shot up to the severely polluted category to reach 429 at 4pm on Thursday, as a thick layer of smog and haze enveloped the city on Thursday under the cloud cover.

“The schools had remained closed for a very long time and the decision to reopen them was made because pollution levels were decreasing in Delhi at that time. But as we can see right now, the pollution levels have started rising again. The government is constantly monitoring the situation. We have now decided to close the schools for all classes, once again from tomorrow (Friday),” environment minister Gopal Rai said on Thursday, shortly after the court hearing.

The apex court on Thursday expressed its dissatisfaction with the measures to control high pollution levels. It had also took an exception to the Delhi government's 'Red Light On Gadi Off' campaign saying that young volunteers are made to stand on traffic intersections while their health is being compromised being exposed to high air pollution levels.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)