Pointing out the ill effects of pollution on the health of school children, India’s top child rights body on Wednesday issued a notice to the Delhi government over its “failure” to curb pollution and recommended the closure of schools till the situation improves.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) accused the Arvind Kejriwal government of not taking any measures to curb rising pollution levels in the city. “The high levels of pollution are very harmful to the school-going children,” said NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo.
“It seems the government of NCT of Delhi has failed to take preventive measures in this regard. It is, therefore, strongly recommended by the commission that the government of NCT should consider taking appropriate action and should consider taking a decision to close down the schools till the time the air quality (AQI) of the national capital improves, in view of the best interest of the children,” the child rights body said in the notice.
It further said: “An action taken report with respect to the decision on the closing down of the school in Delhi may be shared with the commission within 24 and a detailed action report may be shared within 3 days of the receipt of this letter.”
Earlier, Kanoongo told The New Indian: “I am sending a notice to the Delhi government on two points – Why has no measure been taken so far? If the Delhi government is failing to curb the pollution, then they should shut the school in the national capital.”
As per government data, the air quality slipped into the hazardous category with the air quality index reaching up to 517 on Wednesday.
“The safety of school children is a matter of concern due to the dangerous level of pollution in Delhi, so far the state government of Delhi has not taken any decision on this. Children are in the wrath of toxic air on their way to school, in playgrounds. This negligence is wrong, NCPCR is issuing notice on this,” Kanoongo said.
Despite various measures by the Delhi government and the imposition of the third stage of the Graded Response Action Plan, the pollution level has been hovering around very poor to severe categories over the last week.
As per the air management agencies, air pollution levels are unlikely to improve in the next three days.
The Delhi government has taken at least 10 big measures to curb the pollution in the city, including setting up anti-smog towers, banning firecrackers, using water sprinklers and stopping construction activities.
But due to vehicular pollution, stubble burning in neighbouring states and climatic conditions with no wind movement, the pollution could not be contained, believe experts.
According to Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai, domestic factors contribute around 31 per cent to the city’s air pollution. However, 69 per cent of pollution in Delhi is due to stubble burning in neighbouring states like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.