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Toxic Smog Chokes India’s Capital, Forcing Schools To Close

Children in the city of 20 million will be protected from toxic smog by closing their primary schools, Indian authorities announced Friday.

It is a deadly gray haze that blankets the capital every winter due to smoke from burning crop stubble, vehicle exhaust, and factory emissions.

The World Health Organization recommends a daily maximum amount of PM2.5 particles to enter the bloodstream that is almost 25 times what was measured on Friday, according to monitoring firm IQAir.

Residents and political opponents are criticizing Delhi’s chief minister for failing to address the crisis, so the school system has decided to close primary schools from Saturday until the pollution situation improves. 

Kejriwal said, “No child should suffer in any way.”.

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On Friday, Delhi again topped IQAir’s list of cities with the worst air quality, ranking as one of the world’s most polluted cities. 

According to a Lancet study in 2020, air pollution in India was responsible for 1.6 million deaths in the previous year, including almost 17500 deaths in the capital.

There are multiple plans announced by the authorities to reduce the pollution, for example, stopping construction work, but they have little effect.

North India’s rice paddies are cleared of crop stubble every winter by thousands of farmers setting fire to their fields. 

Even though farmers are being persuaded to use different clearing methods, the practice remains a primary cause of Delhi’s annual smog problem.

According to India’s air quality monitoring agency, farm fire smoke contributed a third to Delhi’s air pollution on Thursday.

Additionally, Delhi and Punjab are governed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a rival party to the Bharatiya Janata Party headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In response to India’s environment minister lambasting the AAP for presiding over an increase in farm fires, Kejriwal called for an end to “blame games and finger-pointing” over the smog.

It won’t help us find solutions. We can blame them, and they can blame us, but that won’t accomplish anything.”

He continued, “Farmers need solutions. The day they find one, they will stop burning stubble.”

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