Schools shut but organisation refuses to halt marathon for children in DelhiUpdated: Nov 14, 2019 23:01 IST
New Delhi: Despite air quality levels remaining in the “severe” category for the third consecutive day, hundreds of children in the capital participated in the “Run for Children” marathon organised by child’s rights organisation Prayas as a part of its Children’s Day celebrations on Thursday.
This comes a day after schools in Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad were ordered to remain shut on Thursday and Friday, as per directions of the Supreme Court-mandated pollution control body Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.
The air quality index (AQI), as calculated by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at 4pm on Thursday, was 463, in the “severe” category. This was against the overall AQI reading of 456 on Wednesday. Government agencies had warned earlier that pollution levels in the capital might touch “emergency” levels on Thursday.
“The order calling for closure of schools came in very late last night. No instructions were announced on cultural programmes,” said Amod Kanth, founder of Prayas, adding that “over 4,000 children participated in the event.”
Kanth, the former chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), said they had reduced the marathon to a “symbolic run” of about 100 metres in the Chanakyapuri area. “This event is organised every year on Children’s Day by us. For underprivileged children, it is a big event and they had come from all over the city to participate in it. Seeing the pollution conditions, we reduced the length of the run to less than 100 metres.”
Many people on social media criticised the event, saying as it would endanger the health and safety of children, who are most vulnerable to the ill-effects of air pollution. Responding to this, however, Kanth pointed out that the event was important for the children and that there was no discussion on postponing the event. “Children from marginalised communities look forward to such events and it has extra significance for them. We can’t hold Children’s Day celebrations on some other day,” he said.
Another event scheduled for the day, organised by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority and Bachpan Bachao Andolan, wherein the participants had planned to form a human chain at India Gate “in solidarity with India’s missing children”, was called off due in view of the pollution.