School kids in Delhi set to get free anti-pollution masks
The Delhi government has drafted a proposal to distribute anti-pollution masks for free to children in both government and private schools before Diwali, senior government officials said on Monday.
Delhi has 1,030 government-run schools, 215 government-aided schools and 1,352 private schools.The government estimates it will need five million N95 anti-pollution masks to be distributed in the schools under the initiative as of now and more accurate estimates are awaited by October 1 evening, officials said.
N95 masks are those that are capable of blocking at least 95% of PM 2.5 —particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 micrometres, which is nearly 3% the size of the diameter of a human hair strand. particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 micrometres, which is nearly 3% the size human hair strand. Such particulate matter can cause severe heart and lung diseases.
“So far, the government has estimated that 5 million masks will be needed to carry out the initiative. Zonal officers in the education department have been entrusted with the task of submitting more accurate figures by October 1. And on October 3, the government has planned to open bids for the tenders. Diwali is on October 27, so the distribution has to be completed by October 22,” said a government official.
The anti-pollution masks will be distributed in schools zone-wise. For administration of government schools, the city is divided into 29 zones in 13 districts, officials said. Initially, the proposal was to cover only government school students and their parents but the plan was changed last week.
The budget is yet to be estimated and it has become a difficult task because the price range of N95 masks is very wide and the government does not have much time to evaluate, government officials said. “We have to wait for the quotations,” the official said.
With time, the government is open to the possibility of extending the scheme to cover students of primary schools, most of which are run by the municipal corporations, sanitation workers and construction workers, officials said.
The anti-pollution mask distribution initiative is a part of the government’s seven-point winter action plan to fight air pollution, which chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced earlier this month.
Other initiatives include other measures such as the odd-even car rationing scheme, the third edition of which is all set to be implemented between November 4 and 15, a mega laser show on Diwali and anti-firecracker campaigns to be organised by the government and ensuring control of dust pollution by investing in water sprinklers.