Primary schools in Delhi would be closed from Saturday as air quality worsens, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday during a press briefing. For secondary school students, outdoor activities would be restricted. This comes a day after schools in the neighbouring city of Noida were told to hold online classes till 8 November.
Hours later, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai - at a briefing - said that 50 per cent of government staff would be working from home. He said a similar advisory has been issued for private offices. The entry of trucks in the city - apart from those carrying essential services - is already barred, he said.
A six-member team of senior officials has been set up to monitor the implementation of the curbs on anti-polluting activities, he highlighted, adding that revenue commissioners have been asked to prepare a plan for staggered timings of markets and offices.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government is also contemplating bringing back odd-even traffic rationing measure for vehicles in national capital, Kejriwal had said earlier in the day. "We're taking all steps to control the pollution situation. Meanwhile, we're shutting down all primary schools in Delhi from tomorrow till the situation improves.. Also, outdoor activities for all classes above Class 5 would be barred," the Delhi Chief Minister said.
During his briefing, Kejriwal also spoke about BJP leader Adesh Kumar Gupta's concerns. "I saw in the morning that he was talking about his grandson. I want to assure him that his grandson is like my grandson too. We will take urgent measures," he stressed. "We will try that no children should face any sort of health-related trouble," he said.
Kejriwal was addressing the presser with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann by his side: "We do take accountability for farm fires in Punjab. But we also want Centre to come forward and help," the AAP chief said.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed alarm over the increasing air pollution in Delhi-NCR. Saying that it is not satisfied with steps taken, the NHRC - in a statement - said: "The NHRC is not satisfied with the various actions taken so far to address the issue of air pollution in Delhi NCR, and it has asked the Chief Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to be present before it either personally or on hybrid mode on November 10 for a detailed discussion in this regard. The Chief Secretaries of these states are expected to inform the commission within a week positively before this discussion about the steps taken by their respective governments to stop the burning of stubble in their regions."