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Schools, colleges in Gurugram to remain closed, over 930 industries to stay shut

Gurugram recorded “very poor” air for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of 344, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.
Students of Salwan Public School leave after attending practical classes and mock drill at a CBSE exam centre. The Haryana government’s Sunday order to close all schools and ban construction activities till November 17 in the four districts of Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat and Jhajjar. (Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Nov 18, 2021 04:22 AM IST
BySuparna Roy, Hindustan Times, Gurugram

As pollution levels continue to fluctuate between “very poor” and “severe” in the National Capital Region (NCR), officials of the Haryana government on Wednesday said they will follow Tuesday’s Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) directions, which include the closure of all educational institutions until further notice.

The directions came on the heels of the Haryana government’s Sunday order to close all schools and ban construction activities till November 17 in the four districts of Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat and Jhajjar.

Sanjeev Kaushal, the additional chief secretary for disaster management in the state, said, “Last Sunday, the state disaster management authority issued orders that schools will remain closed till November 17, but now, in accordance with Tuesday’s CAQM order, schools, colleges, educational institutions will remain closed till further notice. The directions of the CAQM are quite comprehensive and cover all issues. These orders will be fully complied with. The same has been communicated to all the deputy commissioners.”

Rashmi Malik, the principal of Salwan Public School said, “The school is completely closed for all students but students from Board classes (classes 10 and 12) can come to get their doubts cleared. We will follow online mode of education for the others.”

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Gurugram recorded “very poor” air for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) reading of 344, according to Central Pollution Control Board data. Its neighbouring cities of Faridabad and Manesar also recorded “very poor” air quality with AQI readings of 378 and 336, respectively.

According to the weather bulletin issued on Wednesday evening by the Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, NCR’s air quality is likely to improve marginally but remain in the “very poor” category on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is likely to improve significantly from Sunday owing to relatively strong winds.

Meanwhile, CAQM on Tuesday also ordered that “all industries in NCR with gas connectivity shall be run only on gas as a fuel, failing which industries concerned shall be closed. This commission has already repeatedly directed not to permit any industry to use unapproved fuels. All industries in NCR still using unapproved fuels shall be closed by respective governments with immediate effect.”

On Monday, a high-level meeting was convened by the additional chief secretary of disaster management, before CAQM’s meeting on Tuesday, where the state industries department had said that over 900 industries in the NCR were still using unapproved fuels.

“With the implementation of the CAQM’s order, the functioning of around 933 industries in Haryana’s NCR districts will be affected as many of them are still using furnace oil, diesel or other such fuels to operate. Only industrial units that are using PNG and CNG will be allowed to function,” added Kaushal.

The state government also closed down two power plants in Panipat, in accordance with the CAQM order, which said that only five of the 11 thermal power plants located within a 300km radius of Delhi – NTPC, Jhajjar; Mahatma Gandhi TPS, CLP Jhajjar; Panipat TPS, HPGCL; Nabha Power Ltd. TPS, Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo TPS, Mansa – will remain operational till November 30.

Along with this, CAQM encouraged work from home in NCR districts to reduce vehicular emissions.

The state government also considered implementing the odd-even scheme for traffic in four NCR districts, but dropped the idea after consultation with CAQM on Tuesday, said officials.

S Narayanan, member secretary of Haryana State Pollution Control Board said, “The Supreme Court heard the matter of increasing air pollution in NCR and action taken by different states, after which the apex court instructed us to follow the directions of CAQM and will hear the case again on next Wednesday. No additional directions were issued by the state government. The Haryana government proposed that the odd-even scheme can also be implemented in four districts of NCR, but CAQM said that it could lead to confusion among passengers as it is not being implemented in Delhi or other NCR districts of Haryana. We were rather directed to implement pollution control measures for severe plus category, so the proposal was struck down.”

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