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Schools shut in India's Delhi for the week as toxic smog thickens

Schools shut in India's Delhi for the week as toxic smog thickens
From Reuters - November 8, 2017

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Delhis government on Wednesday ordered schools shut for the rest of the week as air pollution worsened and criticism mounted over the failure of Indian authorities to tackle the public health crisis.

Thick smog swathed Delhi, where pollution readings in some places peaked at 500, the most severe level on the governments air quality index measuring the number of poisonous particles.

The air quality in Delhi is deteriorating. We cannot compromise with the health of children at this stage, said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, ordering the closure until Sunday.

The Delhi administration, which described the city as a gas chamber, had previously ordered schools for young children to close only for Wednesday.

Anti-pollution measures adopted by the Delhi state government in recent years include limiting car use and taxing trucks that pass through the city, but few have succeeded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modis federal government also urged Delhi and the surrounding northern states to immediately tackle dangerous levels of pollution in the capital, even if that meant deploying helicopters to spray jets of water.

Every possible step required to tackle the situation has been already identified, and the need of the hour is to put them into action, federal Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan wrote on social network Twitter, using the hashtag #DelhiSmog.

Vardhan also urged the surrounding states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to ban burning on farms, which is seen as a major contributor to the dirty air, along with high vehicle emissions and dust from construction sites.

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