NGT: Close Schools If Air Quality Hits Emergency Mark

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on directed the Delhi government to consider shutting schools whenever air quality touches emergency levels to save the children from inhaling pollutants.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the AAP government to look into this aspect and incorporate it in its action plan to deal with the problem of air pollution.

“Why don’t you close schools whenever the particulate matter levels are found to be beyond 900 micrograms per cubic meter. Ask the schools to run on Saturday and Sunday if required,” the bench observed.

Advocate Tarunvir Singh Khehar, appearing for the Delhi government, said that this was difficult to implement because the children will have to suffer academically.

He said that air quality is bad in winter season for three months and if schools are closed during this period it would be difficult to complete their syllabus and examinations will have to be postponed.

During the proceedings, the Delhi government submitted its action plan for the period when air quality touches emergency levels which it divided in three categories dealing with different levels of pollution.

The NGT said that it would pass detailed order on ways to handle air pollution after perusing the action plans submitted by the Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh governments.

The tribunal had on December 6 slammed the AAP government and the neighbouring states over their action plan on ways to deal with severe air pollution in the city and directed them to file a detailed document to tackle the problem.

It had observed that air pollution was never at “normal level” in the national capital and directed the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan to file the action plan afresh.