With schools shut due to toxic smog and Delhi/NCR region's air quality inching toward above the 'severe' category Thursday, many students wrote letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to ensure that measures are taken to bring relief from the alarming situation.
"I used to enjoy soccer earlier but now I can only enjoy it on TV. I cannot play outside because the air is too toxic to breathe in," a student, Ishan Mahant, was quoted by PTI as saying in the letter.
On Wednesday night, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) directed schools to remain closed due to hazardous air quality. PTI reported that several students, who remained indoors, chose not to celebrate Children's Day today.
Another student was quoted as saying in the letter, "At this point we need a strong directive from the government of India and the governments of the states affected to control this serious condition. We do have belief in our beloved Prime Minister who will surely take strong decision on this."
The air quality index (AQI) was recorded as 483 by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at 6 pm Thursday. The PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels were nearly eight times higher than the normal limits at several locations in the city. The levels of PM 2.5 - tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter - can enter deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream. The AQI in the satellites cities of Delhi - Faridabad (441), Ghaziabad (490), Greater Noida (470), Gurgaon (414) and Noida (486) - was equally bad.
An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe', while the AQI above 500 falls in the severe plus category. On Wednesday, the EPCA had extended the restrictions on dirty-fuel based industries in Delhi-NCR, hot mix plants and stone crushers till the morning of November 15, as the MeT department had said strong winds are expected from Friday, which will bring down the air pollution levels to the very poor category.