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Delhi has become a ‘gas chamber’: Kejriwal

Delhi has become a ‘gas chamber’: Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: Pollution in the Indian capital hit a dangerous level on Tuesday, putting residents at risk, forcing the closure of schools, and bringing calls from doctors for the city’s half marathon to be cancelled.

Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the city had become a “gas chamber”. Schools for younger children were ordered shut on Wednesday and all outdoor activity at high schools suspended.

A thick fog that hung over the sprawling city worsened conditions. Residents complained of smarting eyes and irritation in the throat.

The air quality index, which measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter in the air, hit the “severe” level of 451 on a scale where the maximum reading is 500 and where anything above 100 is considered unhealthy by the Central Pollution Control Board.

At the severe level, even healthy people will be affected while those who have existing diseases will be severely impacted, it said.

In some parts of Delhi, the air quality was so poor that it was beyond the maximum level, according to the US Embassy’s real-time air quality index. It stood at 999 for RK Puram area beyond which no readings are available.

That level is equal to smoking 50 cigarettes a day, Dr. Arvind Kumar, chairman for chest surgery at Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said.

“We are in a state of medical emergency, schools should be shut, we need to bring these levels down. We are all shortening our lives.”

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2017

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