Delhi government shuts schools as state turns into gas chamber

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Delhi recorded 448 on the air quality index the second time this year. The shutdown doesn't apply to schools in Gurgaon and Noida since they fall under different state governments.

Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat, Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said that if needed the schools will remain closed even on Thursday. As per norms, satisfactory AQI level is 100 and Delhi routinely is between 300 and 400. Exactly a year ago to the date, the Delhi government had faced a near identical situation, with yet another episode of Delhi being shrouded in smoke, with an AQI of 500 (the highest it can be) at the Punjabi Bagh, Anand Vihar and Mandir Marg monitoring stations of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

A combination of smoke from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and moisture turned Delhi into a "gas chamber" today, prompting authorities to announce a series of preventive measures including a four-fold hike in parking fees and slashing of metro fares.

"Outdoor activities including assemblies should not take place in schools", said Sisodia.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had asked Manish Sisodia to consider shutting schools for a few days in view of the high pollution in the city. Junior classes will remain closed for some more days if the air quality doesn't improve, he added.

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That's not all. The EPCA has asked the Delhi government to start preparing for measures such as odd-even and ban on construction if pollution aggravates.

Kejriwal has also sought an appointment with Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan to discuss the alarming situation, he said.

The plea has also sought direction to Delhi and the neighbouring states to file a status report with regard to the steps taken to educate people regarding waste burning and the pollution caused by it.

Till Monday evening, the air quality index was in "very poor" category, but it deteriorated to "severe", as the air pollution rose to hazardous levels by Tuesday morning, leaving Delhiites gasping for breath.

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