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Early winter break: After Lahore, New Delhi also closes schools to curb smog


People and vehicles are seen on a road amidst the morning smog in New Delhi, India, November 8, 2023.  —Reuters
  • Pakistan, India fight common enemy — smog.
  • Pollution forces closures of businesses, schools in Lahore.
  • Early winter break in New Delhi announced.

NEW DELHI: The Indian authorities have announced a change in the winter break schedule, closing all schools in New Delhi due to worsening air quality due to smog.

The development comes a day after the Pakistani government imposed a health emergency in Lahore and two other divisions from Nov 9 to 12.

All markets, shopping malls, restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums, schools, and offices (public and private) shall remain closed for four days in Lahore, Gujranwala and Hafizabad divisions, a statement issued by the provincial health department said.

Both countries are badly affected by high levels of smog nowadays which has increased the difficulties for people, causing a number of health issues.

According to a notification issued by the New Delhi education department, “In the wake of the implementation of GRAP-IV measures due to Severe + Air Quality prevailing in Delhi and seeing that no respite from such adverse weather conditions in near future is predicted by the IMD, the Winter Break for the session 2023-24 is ordered to be preponed so that schools can be totally closed and both children and teachers can stay at home.”

Accordingly, the notification added that all schools shall observe winter break from November 9-18.

Growing industrialisation in South Asia in recent decades has fuelled growing pollutants emanating from factories, construction activity and vehicles in densely populated areas.

The problem becomes more severe in cooler autumn and winter months, as temperature inversion prevents a layer of warm air from rising and traps pollutants closer to the ground.

Heavy smog blanketed Lahore this week, reducing visibility and leading residents to complain of a threat to their health.

“The weather is such that everyone has a bad throat and bad eyes, and everyone’s health is getting affected,” said Mohammad Salahuddin, a private guard in Lahore.

Rising air pollution can cut life expectancy by more than five years per person in South Asia, one of the world’s most polluted regions, according to a report published in August which flagged the growing burden of hazardous air on health.



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