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Schools in Noida Ordered to Hold Online Classes till November 8 Amid Worsening Air Quality

All schools across Noida and Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar will hold online classes up to the eighth standard till November 8 due to worsening air pollution, officials said on Thursday.

Schools, higher education institutes and technical institutions are directed to conduct online classes, according to an order by the District Magistrate. Outdoor activities in all schools have been restricted by the District School Inspector said.

The average air quality index (AQI) for a 24-hour period at 4 pm Thursday was recorded at 423, according to a government agency monitoring pollution. An AQI above 400 indicates ‘severe’ category which “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”, the agency stated.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been imposed in Noida to check pollution in Delhi-NCR. The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas had called for strict implementation of GRAP guidelines in view of the air quality in the region hitting the severe category as forecast by the weather department.

Among the measures stated in the order is enforcing a “strict ban” on construction and demolition activities in the entire NCR.

In Noida, violations of GRAP led to fines totalling Rs 4.25 lakh on more than a dozen offenders. “Fourteen cases of keeping construction material in the open and violating the rules related to air pollution were found and a fine of Rs 4.20 lakh has been imposed,” the Noida Authority said. “A fine of Rs 5,000 was imposed by the Public Health Department in one case of littering. Thus, today a total fine of Rs 4.25 lakh was imposed in various cases of violation of the provisions of GRAP,” it added.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked the Delhi government to shut schools till the air quality improves in the national capital. “The safety of school children is a matter of concern due to the dangerous level of pollution in Delhi, so far no decision has been taken by the state government of Delhi. Children are in the wrath of toxic air on their way to school, in playgrounds. This negligence is wrong, @NCPCR_ is issuing notice on it,” Kanoongo said in a tweet on Wednesday.

In a letter to Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena, Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta also raised a similar demand. “Children are being affected the most with pollution reaching very severe levels. Sending children in open fields or outside the house in such severe pollution is making them sick,” he said.

Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai said NCPCR’s request will be sent to CAQM. “…The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has come up with Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which will have to be implemented in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana too — in Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurugram and Bahadurgarh…We need the support of the governments in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. They need to become active,” he was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai will convene a high-level meeting on Friday to discuss the implementation of curbs on polluting activities under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan. Delhi’s 24-hour average air quality index jumped to 450, just a notch short of the “severe plus” category as the share of stubble burning in the national capital’s PM2.5 pollution soared to 38 per cent amid stagnant conditions and favourable transport-level wind speed.

(With inputs from PTI)

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