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As Delhi gasps, primary schools to be shut, capital turns gas chamber

NEW DELHI: There will be no classes till Class 5 on Wednesday in Delhi schools, and there will be no assembly or outdoor activities for older students, the government has announced a choking blanket of smog covered the world's most polluted capital city on Tuesday, impelling a top medical body to declare a "public health emergency".
"I would also request people to avoid morning walks. The situation is close to a severe crisis," said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had tweeted that schools should be closed for a few days. "Every year, during this time of the year, Delhi becomes a gas chamber for almost a month," Kejriwal said in tweets, calling for a solution.
The Indian Medical Association has called for an annual half marathon on November 19 to be cancelled to protect runners and volunteers from high levels of harmful particulate matter.
The IMA declaration came as the US embassy website said levels of the fine pollutants known as PM2.5 that are most harmful to health reached 703 — well over double the threshold of 300 that authorities class as hazardous.
"We have declared a state of public health emergency in Delhi since pollution is at an alarming level," the head of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Krishan Kumar Aggarwal said. "Delhi authorities have to make every possible effort to curb this menace."
The US embassy's website said that levels of the fine pollutants known as PM2.5 that are most harmful to health reached 703 -- well over double the threshold of 300 that is classed as hazardous. It stood at 999 for the RK Puram area, beyond which no readings are available.
Delhi woke up to 'severe' air quality on Tuesday under a blanket of thick haze, as pollution levels breached the permissible standards by multiple times.
The rapid fall in air quality and visibility began Monday evening itself as moisture combined with pollutants shrouded the city in a thick cover of haze.
By 10 am on Tuesday, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded 'severe' air quality, meaning the intensity of pollution was extreme.
In light of the sudden dip, measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) such as a four times hike in parking fees may be rolled out by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority.
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