Kejriwal distributes masks to school kids, asks them to write to Punjab, Haryana CM regarding smog
The Delhi government on Friday started distributing anti-pollution masks to schoolchildren to protect them from the foul air that has enveloped the capital.
The government had announced it would distribute five million N95 masks --- capable of blocking at least 95% of PM 2.5 particles -- to students of both government and private schools.
Government officials said they had procured around 2.2 million masks for the distribution till Friday. Each such mask has cost the government Rs 19.75, officials said.
During the event, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal told students that smoke emanating from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana was causing air pollution in the city and urged them to write letters to the chief ministers of both the states.
The CM encouraged the students to help stop garbage burning in Delhi. “We have to stop garbage burning in Delhi. If you see anyone doing so, request them to not do it. If they do not listen, there is a WhatsApp number to report it,” he said.
The students were given a kit having two masks and a pamphlets explaining how to use them.
On October 1, Hindustan Times had reported on the modalities of the proposed plan and how students of Class 6 to Class 12 of government and private schools would be entitled to get two such masks each. The scheme will cover around 2.45 million students.
Many parents appreciated the government’s initiative. Shanti Devi, mother of a class 7th student at government senior secondary school in Karol Bagh, said, “Parents of government school students cannot afford these expensive masks. The government is giving us these masks for free.”
When asked why the event was organised outdoors on a day when pollution had touched alarming levels, Arvind Kejriwal said, “Those who want to criticise us will keep doing it no matter what concrete steps we take and what we achieve in terms of reducing air pollution in Delhi. Opposition parties have been fanning such sentiments. They will do anything but not tell us what they have done to reduce stubble burning on their part.”
Some students complained about receiving large-sized masks. “The mask does not fit me even after tightening the adjustable string,” said a class 8 student at the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya in Civil Lines.
Sanjeev Khirwar, secretary, Delhi health and family welfare department, said, “All masks are of standard size and should fit children of classes 6 and above. There is a nose pin to adjust the masks. It can be worn by the children whenever they step outdoors during the high-pollution period.”