Pollution: the asphyxiated Indian capital closes its schools

Eva Deschamps / November 4, 2022

New Delhi on Saturday ordered schools closed for a week and is considering a lockdown to protect people from a pollution cloud. “From Monday, schools will be closed so that children do not have to breathe polluted air,” Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the Indian capital, told reporters. 
 
The Central Pollution Control Board also asked residents to “limit outdoor activities” and advised government authorities to prepare “for the implementation of emergency measures.” It added that the poor air quality would likely continue at least until Nov. 18 due to “light winds and calm conditions overnight. »
 
Populated by 20 million people, the Indian capital is the most polluted city in the world, according to a report by the Swiss organization IQAir published in 2020, due to its factories, traffic and agricultural fires lit every winter. And on Saturday, the Supreme Court suggested imposing containment in Delhi to combat deteriorating air quality. “Otherwise how will we be able to live,” said Chief Justice N.V. Arvind Kejriwal said his government would consider the proposal after consulting stakeholders. “Containment due to pollution has never happened before. It will be an extreme measure,” he said.
  
Construction work will be halted for four days, starting Sunday, to stop polluting emissions from outdoor sites, he announced. Civil servants are to telecommute, and private companies have been asked to do so as much as possible.
 
Forty fans pumping out 1,000 cubic meters of air
On Saturday, levels of PM 2.5 particles – the smallest and most harmful, which can enter the bloodstream – exceeded 300 on the air quality index. That’s 20 times the maximum daily limit recommended by the World Health Organization.
 
Earlier this year, the New Delhi government inaugurated its first giant air purifier containing 40 fans that pump 1,000 cubic metres of air per second through filters. The $2 million facility reduces the amount of harmful particles in the air by half, but only within a one-square-kilometer radius, engineers say.

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