India’s capital, New Delhi, and surrounding areas may be closed. Not because of Corona, but in the fight against dangerous air pollution. Schools and five coal-fired power plants are already closed.
Pollution levels in the area rose to “severe” this month. The air quality index in New Delhi has risen to 499 on a scale of 500, indicating that healthy people are also at risk of respiratory disease.
India’s Supreme Court believes the lockdown can be used to reduce air pollution. This will be the first time the city has been closed for a reason other than Corona. According to the AP news agency, it is still unclear what the potential shutdown will look like, but the district’s board of directors has already announced that a closure at the end of the week is possible. The government has not made a decision yet.
Not all experts are keen on this procedure. It will not be enough to combat pollution, but it will have a huge impact on the economy and the lives of millions of people – more than 21 million people live in New Delhi. “This is a very destructive measure,” said Anumita Roychodhury of the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi. “It doesn’t do anything about long-term air pollution, you just need to reduce the peak now. It’s not a panacea that makes smog disappear like snow in the sun.”
Coal-fired power plants closed
Meanwhile, India has temporarily closed five coal-fired power plants around the capital, under orders from the Environment Ministry’s Federal Air Pollution Commission. The Air Quality Management Committee also banned the transport of trucks carrying non-essential goods and halted construction in New Delhi and nearby cities.
In the latest decree, the commission said there was an “urgent” need to ensure that the capital’s air quality did not deteriorate further.
New Delhi is one of the most polluted capitals in the world. To protect students from air pollution, the city government said last Saturday that Schools are closed this week will remain. However, the Air Quality Management Committee has already extended school closures until further notice. The commission is also requiring at least 50% of government employees to work from home until November 21.
India’s Supreme Court on Monday asked the commission to propose measures to curb pollution in northern India. The court also reprimanded federal and local governments for failing to curb pollution. Almost every winter, residents breathe toxic air.
India announced in October that it would increase coal production to meet the country’s energy shortage. The government has ordered state-owned Coal India to produce more coal. India depends on coal-fired power plants for about 70 percent of its electricity production. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland earlier this month, India and China refused to halt coal use to the disappointment of the international community.
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