The Delhi Dialogue Commission, a think tank of the Delhi government, has suggested that schools of the city be shut so that children could stay at home on heavy pollution days, following Beijing’s ‘orange alert‘.
The pollution reading in Delhi has been 500 units since Monday — the maximum that can be recorded by the scales of Pollution Control Board.
The level of particulate matter in Delhi’s air is at least 10 to 16 times higher than what is considered safe.
“If the pollution levels reach a point where it can cause irreversible health damage to people, we have to shut down schools and markets… and I think it has come to that point now,” said Ashish Khetan, Vice-chairman of Delhi Dialogue Commission.
However, Ashwini Kumar, chairman of Delhi Pollution Control Committee, a private body, disagreed. “Can somebody say that pollution levels at home are better than pollution levels in school? Such knee-jerk reactions are of no use.”
He added the need of the hour is to tackle the problem, but “not through hypocrisy and fear”.
The AAP government, meanwhile, is looking to citizens for fresh ideas.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission and the University of Chicago have started a joint venture and a first-of-its-kind competition for ideas on improving air quality in Delhi. The total prize money for the competition is Rs. 2 crore.