Schools shut, WFH for govt staff: Kejriwal's 1-week action plan after Supreme Court prod
Lockdown to combat pollution will be a very extreme step, for which the government is preparing a draft proposal. “We are not imposing lockdown now,” Kejriwal said after the apex court suggested lockdown in Delhi amid increasing pollution.
No physical classes will be held in Delhi schools starting from Monday for a week, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Saturday, after the Supreme Court pressed the emergency button on Delhi air pollution. As immediate measures to save people from the adverse impact of air pollution, the government has decided to switch to work from home for 100% of the workforce starting from Monday. Private offices will be issued an advisory to go for the 'Work From Home' option as much as possible, Kejriwal said. No construction activity will be allowed between November 14 and 17.
Kejriwal's action plan comes as the Supreme Court on Saturday termed the pollution situation in Delhi-NCR as 'emergency' and suggested clamping a lockdown in the national capital.
"There was a discussion in the Supreme Court whether a complete lockdown can be brought in place if the situation worsens. We are working on it as to what will the lockdown imply... we are not imposing the lockdown. We are drafting a proposal which we will place in front of the Supreme Court. It will be discussed with all agencies because it will be an extreme step. The Centre will also be taken into confidence. If such a situation comes, construction, vehicular movement might have to be stopped," Kejriwal said.
Like every year, the smog situation of Delhi-NCR turned severe after Diwali, being aggravated by the stubble burning of neighbouring states. The worsening air situation was being flagged by air quality monitoring agencies, with the Central Pollution Control Board sounding an emergency on Friday. In an advisory, the Board advised people not to venture outdoors and suggested that government and private offices can switch to work-from-home to reduce vehicular pollution.
"Meteorological conditions will be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants till November 18 in view of low winds with calm conditions during the night," the advisory said.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana on Saturday said the situation in Delhi is so bad that people are wearing masks inside their houses. Over the usual exercise of blaming 'stubble burning' for Delhi pollution during the onset of winter, the Supreme Court bench said there are other reasons for pollution such as vehicular emissions, firecrackers and dust, and singling out stubble burning is not the solution.
As the Supreme Court heard the pollution matter, it specifically expressed concern for the schools in the national capital as they have resumed physical classes starting from November 1. "We understand some per cent is stubble burning. Rest is crackers, vehicular pollution, industries, dust pollution etc. You tell us how to bring AQI levels from 500 to 200 points in Delhi. Take some immediate urgent measures like a two-day lockdown," the bench, also comprising justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, said.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the overall AQI in Delhi was 427 in the evening which falls in the severe or hazardous category.