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A toxic air mass forced New Delhi to close schools indefinitely

New Delhi decreed this Wednesday the school closings until further notice before a suffocating pollution cloud in the capital of India. In nearby Lahore, Pakistan, citizens regret the inaction of the authorities in the face of this phenomenon.

Air quality has deteriorated to very dangerous levels for health in northern India and adjacent areas of Pakistan in recent years due to the industrial contamination and smoke from agricultural fires.

With winter temperatures this pollution becomes toxic clouds engulfing cities, make visibility difficult and make the air unbreathable.

Polluted air is a serious problem in New Delhi, the capital of India. Photo: REUTERS

Subjected to this phenomenon every winter, New Delhi, with 20 million inhabitants, decreed on Tuesday night the extension until further notice of the closure of schools imposed days ago for only one week.

Extensive contamination

The concentration of polluting particles in the air of the capital has reached multiply by 30 the maximum level recommended by the World Health Organization.

To combat this smog, authorities have installed water cannons at the most critical points which must be put into operation three times a day.

In the order issued by the Air Quality Management Commission, the authorities also prohibit the entry of trucks with merchandise non-essential to the city, they paralyze construction tasks and suspend operations in six of the 11 thermal plants located at a rate of 300 kilometers.

One of the water cannons arranged by the New Delhi government in one of the most critical points of the city.  Photo: EFE

One of the water cannons arranged by the New Delhi government in one of the most critical points of the city. Photo: EFE

He also imposed telecommuting for half of public jobs, and asked private companies to follow suit.

This order comes days after the Delhi government rejected a request from India’s Supreme Court to declare for the first time a “pollution lockdown”, restricting the movement of the population.

Despite this situation in its capital, India was the main responsible for weaken commitments to eradicate coal use at the COP26 climate summit ended on Saturday in Glasgow.

A report by the Swiss organization IQAir placed 22 Indian cities among the 30 most polluted in the world in 2020.

According to the same company, which monitors air pollution data at hundreds of locations, Lahore was the city with the worst air quality in the world on Wednesday morning.

In this city of 11 million inhabitants, next to the Indian border, residents are exasperated at the lack of measures by the administration, which attributes this phenomenon to the neighboring country or claims that the figures are exaggerated.

Children suffer from respiratory problems (…) For the love of God, find a solution “, said the pawn Muhammad Saeed to AFP

In recent years, Lahore residents have built their own air purifiers and sued the administration to try to improve the situation.

“We can only implore them to control the pollution (…) If this continues, we are going to die,” the trader Ikram Ahmed laments to AFP.

The peon Saeed claims that he has stopped taking his children for a walk in the street due to the toxic air.

“There are factories and small industries operating here. Let them take them elsewhere, give them compensation or equip them with modern technology, so that we can get rid of this fog,” he said.

Source: AFP

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