Delhi’s air quality remained in the “severe category” on Thursday morning with schools remaining shut. A thick blanket of smog continued to cover the national capital with an overall AQI of 460 this morning.
PTI reported that the Dwarka Sector 8 air monitoring centre recorded an air quality index of 496 and Nehru Nagar and JLN Stadium 492.
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.
However, none of this stopped the NGO Prayas, run by a former DGP and Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights Amod Kanth from holding their Children’s Day event ‘Run for Children’.
A bunch of children were made to run on the streets of Delhi, most of them without air pollution masks, at a time when the government has ordered schools to remain shut and asked people to not exercise or do other outdoor activities.
The photos of the event went viral on social media.
Delhi: A 'Run for Children' was flagged off in the national capital earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/TzdGNt92HA— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2019
The thick smog can be seen clearly in the photos as these children went for the run. Parents, whose children participated in the event, were not every happy about it either.
Reports said that even at the marathon children fell sick. “Children are falling ill due to toxic air. Some of the participants have also missed the marathon due to pollution today. One boy while running puked and is now taking rest,” ANI quoted Payal, a parent at the event as saying.
In response to Huffpost India’s queries Vishwajeet Ghoshal, Director-Projects of Prayas said, “Permission had been taken, like the previous years from the Police and Central government for the programme, arrangements and the run. While the permission was from Vinay Marg up to Ring Road near Hyatt Hotel. It was decided to do symbolic run for a very short distance on Vinay marg and take the children for the cultural program which they had prepared for long.”
Prayas said that they had been running this event for the past nine years and was conducted with mostly “mostly underprivileged non-school-going children”.
“There was no instruction from any agency to close the program like it could be for schools through some media announcement last night,” Ghoshal said.
People on social media also called out Kanth and the NGO for not cancelling the event and putting the lives of these children in danger.
What is wrong with you people? Here the air quality is such that schools are shut to keep kids somewhat protected, you're making them breathe the smog in more?— Vidyut (@Vidyut) November 14, 2019
Ghanta run for children. This is flat out wholesale child abuse. https://t.co/ILNLL7B18d
When doctors specifically write that children and the elderly should not be outdoors early morning at these pollution levels, it could be dangerous for their health, we have organised a "Run for Children." https://t.co/5JTuNMhen2— Kiran Manral (@KiranManral) November 14, 2019
When Delhi Schools are closed today because of Air pollution, who are these fools organizing a "Run for Children" in Delhi ???????🤦♂️ https://t.co/7G7iCKkoIJ— RoflMan RYP (@roflpatra007) November 14, 2019
On one hand schools are closed due to pollution, on the other hand this. Who's the organiser?https://t.co/kEtLfuxxn4— Rohit Agarwal 🇮🇳 (@ragarwal) November 14, 2019
Its too polluted for children in Delhi to go to school, but an NGO @prayas_jac whose gen secy is Amod Kanth (Former DGP & Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights @DCPCR) thinks its okay to make them run at peak pollution time. https://t.co/AzxNe6OBoH— anjali mody (@AnjaliMody1) November 14, 2019
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.