Smog-plagued New Delhi extends school closures – World ReadingS


NEW DELHI: Authorities in India’s smog-plagued capital New Delhi on Sunday extended the closure of emergency schools for another week, showing no signs of improvement in the megacity’s suffocating pollution levels.

New Delhi is shrouded in acrid smoke every autumn, which is primarily attributed to stubble burning by farmers in neighboring agricultural states.

The city is regularly ranked as one of the most polluted cities on the planet, with annual smog leading to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Primary schools in Delhi will remain closed until November 10 as pollution levels remain high,” Atishi, Delhi’s education minister, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Atishi, who used only one name after days of high pollution levels, added that secondary schools were “given the option to switch to online classes.”

India’s capital, with a population of 30 million, was once again named the world’s most polluted city on Sunday, according to tracking firm IQAir.

The state of Delhi imposes restrictions on construction activities every year and orders some vehicles off the roads when pollution reaches serious levels.

But critics say governments are deliberately ignoring the primary agricultural source of the public health crisis.

Air pollution became ‘severe’ in New Delhi, India, some schools closed

Farmers in neighboring states form a powerful electoral lobby, and elected leaders have long resisted calls to impose stiff fines and other criminal sanctions on them for their actions.

New Delhi will host a cricket World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Monday.

However, both teams canceled their planned pre-match training in recent days due to health risks caused by air pollution.

Severe smoke levels are expected to continue for several more weeks.

According to IQAir, levels of the most dangerous PM2.5 particles, which are small enough to enter the bloodstream, reached 570 micrograms per cubic meter on Sunday; This is almost 40 times the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organization.

A 2020 study by Lancet found that 1.67 million deaths in India in the previous year were attributed to air pollution, of which about 17,500 occurred in the capital.

The average city resident could die nearly 12 years earlier than expected due to air pollution, according to an August report from the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute.

India is heavily reliant on polluting coal for power generation, resisting calls to phase it out, and per capita coal emissions have risen 29 percent in the past seven years.

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