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Delhi Public emergency: Schools to be shut till Nov 5; CM meets EPCA chief, readies for GRAP

By Vishal S

New Delhi, Nov 01: The Delhi government on Friday decided to shut all the schools in the national capital till November 5 in the wake of alarmingly high levels of pollution. The Air Quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorated to 'Severe-Plus' category.

The EPCA earlier today banned construction activity till November 5 and totally prohibited the firecrackers for the entire winter season as the Air Quality Index (AQI) touched the 500 mark. A public health emergency has been declared in Delhi-NCR. The Delhi government has started distributing masks through government and private schools.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

An AQI between 401-500 is considered ''severe'' and anything beyond 500 is ''severe-plus emergency''.

"I had an excellent meeting wid Sh Bhure Lal ji, EPCA chief. I sought guidance from him and reiterated the commitment of our govt in dealing with wid pollution. I also assured him all cooperation in implementing GRAP and other measures," Kejriwal tweeted.

GRAP means Graded Response Action Plan. Under GRAP, if the air quality continues to be in the "severe-plus" category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing scheme and banning entry of trucks would be taken.

The government will start distributing 50 lakh N95 masks among school students in Delhi from Friday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his tweets said the government was ready to cooperate with EPCA if it comes down to implementing GRAP.

The Chief Minister today described the city as a "gas chamber" while distributing masks to schoolchildren. He also blamed the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, where thousands of farmers at this time of year burn crop stubble, sending vast clouds of smoke drifting across northern India.

[Public health emergency declared in Delhi-NCR as Air Quality deteriorates to [Public health emergency declared in Delhi-NCR as Air Quality deteriorates to "severe-plus"]

"Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through Pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today.I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed," the Delhi CM tweeted.

In the last 40-50 days, the Air Quality in Delhi-NCR has been deteriorating to hazardous levels like every winter. On October 14, Delhi's air quality deteriorated further and AQI plunged to the 239-mark, which falls in the 'poor category'. On October 30, Delhi-NCR's air quality deteriorated to the 'severe' category.

The air quantity index, which takes into account five chief pollutants including PM10 and PM2.5, was recorded at 416 towards noon, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

An AQI between 401-500 is considered ''severe'' and anything beyond 500 is ''severe-plus emergency''.

In November 2017, the government had shut schools for a few days due to deteriorating air quality. It had also issued a health advisory for high-risk people, including children, the elderly and those suffering from asthma and heart ailments.

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