Children forced to run : If you, by any chance, logged on to the website of SAFAR India (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), you would have seen that of the four city maps displayed on its homepage, only Delhi’s marked in dark red. Means the air quality index (24-hour) in Delhi is severe.
- Children were made to participate in Run For Unity in Delhi
- Air pollution level in Delhi has been “severe” for much of this week
- Early Thursday morning, SAFAR air quality stations recorded AQI over 400 in Delhi
If you take your cursor on the map, an info-box pops up and scrolls down warning about the pollution level with a list of prescriptions for EVERYONE (in capital letters as shown here). Here is how the advisory goes:
Avoid all physical activity outdoors. Give a miss to walk today.
Children forced to run, Stop any activity level if you feel any significant coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, breathing difficulty, or fatigue and consult a doctor.
- If the room has windows, close them.
- If the air conditioner gives a fresh air intake option, close it.
- Avoid consuming anything, such as wood, candles or even incense.
- Keep the room clean, don’t vacuum. Do wet mopping frequently.
- Masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators may only help if you go out.
- Do not rely on soil masks for protection.
All of these type in red background. Yet, against this weather setting thousands of people including hundreds of children were called on to head outdoors as part of the government’s Run For Unity programme. School children don’t come to run on their own when it is a working day. They were made to run despite the hazardous air pollution level in Delhi.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged off the run at the national stadium shortly after 7 am. At another event, Union minister Piyush Goyal flagged off the field. The SAFAR air quality index still showed severe for Delhi.
A PTI report said none were seen using a face mask when they ran for unity to mark 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,
the first deputy prime minister of the country and the man is known for having united more than 560 princely states after Independence into India.
The participants ran through a 1.5-km stretch around India Gate in the heart of the national capital, which saw a fourth consecutive day of very poor to severe pollution levels.
The air quality of Delhi was expected to improve with the progress of the day. At 8 am, the overall air quality index stood at 408. It was still better than 415 at 8 pm on Wednesday.
On Thursday morning 22 of 37 air quality monitoring stations of SAFAR across Delhi reported air quality in the severe category. An AQI between 0-50 is recognised “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”.
Doctors in Delhi have advised the general people to take a lot of precautions such as wearing face masks and avoiding early morning and late evening walks. The doctors say the concentration of pollutants is at its highest during this period. But school children ran for unity at 7 am.
Question is: Cannot a government-sponsored Run For Unity plan for better air quality? SAFAR had predicted improvement in air quality later in the day.
Alternatively, could the Delhi kids or residents have been asked not to take part in it? Could not Run For Unity have shifted to safer cities? SAFAR website shows green maps for Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad with pop-ups saying Enjoy The Day.