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Schools, Colleges In And Near Delhi Closed, Offices Advised 50% WFH – dot newz

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Delhi air quality deteriorated sharply after Diwali on November 4

New Delhi:

All schools and colleges in Delhi and nearby cities should be closed till further notice, the Commission for Air Quality Management said late Tuesday night. The direction – one of many – comes as the national capital region as it battles a toxic smog that has blanketed the city since Diwali.

Educational institutions will, therefore, likely return to online classes as held during the Covid lockdown.

A nine-page order issued by the CAQM also advised NCR state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to allow at least 50 per cent of staff to work from home till November 21.

Private firms in Delhi NCR must also be “encouraged” to allow at least 50 per cent of their staff to work from home, the order by the CAQM (a subcommittee of the Central Pollution Control Board) said.

Apart from WFH instructions and the closure of presential classes for schools and colleges, the order also calls for “heavy penalty on persons/organisations responsible for stacking construction materials… or waste on roads in NCR” and “augment availability of road-sweeping machines in NCR”.

Construction activities and demolition projects across Delhi NCR have been stopped till November 21 as well, with exceptions made for railway services/stations, Metro operations, airports and bus terminals, as well as national security or defence-related activities and projects.

Importantly, only five of 11 thermal power plants in Delhi NCR will be operative.

NCR states and Delhi have also been directed to stop the entry of trucks to the national capital, except for those carrying essential commodities. This is also till November 21 and is subject to further review.

Petrol and diesel vehicles older than 15 and 10 years, respectively, will not be allowed on the roads. Drivers of vehicles found without a valid emission control certificate will be hauled up, the order said.

The CAQM order comes as the Delhi government and the centre face uncomfortable questions from the Supreme Court over the lack of emergency planning for, and response to, the air quality crisis.

Yesterday the Delhi government suggested a weekend lockdown and WFH for a week at an emergency meet ordered by the top court; the meeting was also attended by officials from the centre.

The Delhi government also recommended a pause for construction and industrial activities in the city.

“We have proposed a weekend lockdown, we are ready for it. Our strategy will depend on the court’s directions now,” Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai told NDTV.

The meeting between Delhi government and central officials was demanded by the Supreme Court, which reacted strongly to the former’s claim that a significant reason for the air pollution in the city was stubble burning by farmers in neighbouring states.

The court said there was “no basis for a hue and cry about farm fires” after it was told by the centre that stubble burning contributed to only four per cent of air pollution. But the Delhi government countered by pointing out that peak figures in October and November were not counted.

Earlier the court slammed the governments over the air crisis issue; Chief Justice NV Ramana said: “You see how bad the situation is…. even in our houses, we are wearing masks.”

Breathing the Delhi air is “like smoking 20 cigarettes a day,” the state government admitted in the court, stressing, “We agree to the gravity of the situation.”

Last week the CAQM also called for a halt on the use of diesel generators (except for emergencies), a three- to four-fold increase in parking fees, and a ban on burning coal at open-air eateries.

Delhi and surrounding areas, including Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad, have been choking under a deadly blanket of polluted air for over seven days now – beginning with Diwali on November 4.

Before, during and after Diwali thousands in these and other areas burst firecrackers in blatant violation of orders by the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments, contributing greatly to the shocking deterioration of air quality levels.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, at 12.27 am the overall AQI in Delhi was 397, which borders on the ‘severe’ category; readings in excess of 400 are considered ‘severe’ or ‘hazardous’.

At these levels, the polluted air has high concentrations of PM2.5 particles and these can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer.



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India Is No.1 Food Supplier To Arab Nations After 15 Years – dot newz

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The Arab world is among Brazil’s most important trade partners.

Sao Paulo:

India surpassed Brazil in food exports to the League of Arab States for the first time in 15 years as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted trade flows in 2020, according to data provided by the Arab-Brazil Chamber of Commerce to Reuters on Tuesday.

The Arab world is among Brazil’s most important trade partners, but its distance from those markets took its toll as the pandemic rattled global logistics.

Brazil accounted for 8.15% of the total agribusiness products imported by the 22 League members last year, whereas India captured 8.25% of that trade, ending Brazil’s 15-year advantage, the data showed.

Despite remaining competitive “from the farm gate in,” Brazil lost ground to India and other exporters such as Turkey, the United States, France and Argentina amid a disruption of traditional shipping routes.

Brazilian shipments to Saudi Arabia that once took 30 days could now take up to 60 days, according to the Chamber, whereas India’s geographic advantages allow it to ship fruits, vegetables, sugar, grains and meat in as little as week.

Brazil’s agricultural exports to the Arab League rose just 1.4% by value to $8.17 billion last year. Between January and October this year, sales totaled $6.78 billion, up 5.5%, as logistics problems subsided, Chamber data showed.

China’s push to boost its own food inventories during the pandemic also diverted some of Brazil’s trade with the Arabs, leading countries such as Saudi Arabia to step up promotion of domestic food production, while seeking alternative suppliers.

“It’s a turning point. The Saudis are still big buyers, but they are also net re-exporters of food,” the Chamber said in a statement.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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“BJP Development? Coconut Breaks A Road Open!” Akhilesh Yadav Sneers – dot newz

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Lucknow:

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, ally Jayant Choudhary at his side, berated Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the BJP on multiple issues today — including development, which the ruling party placed front and centre of the coming election. “What infrastructure has the BJP created,” he questioned, citing a recent headline from Bijnore that has raised many a chuckle in the state.

“The older tradition was — hit the coconut on the road and the coconut breaks. The new tradition they have started is hit the coconut on ground and the ground must break,” he told NDTV, speaking on the sidelines of a rally in Mathura attended by thousands.

Suchi Mausam Chaudhary, the BJP MLA from Bijnor Sadar, was left furious earlier this month at the traditional inauguration when bits of a 7-km road, renovated at a cost of Rs 1.16 crore, came off when struck by a coconut.

Challengers to the BJP government which came to power in the state with a sweeping mandate, the two leaders made a prediction. “Looking at anger among the people, BJP can even lose 400 seats. They will be wiped out in the western UP,” Akhilesh Yadav said.

Their sharpest barbs were reserved for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In his address, Mr Yadav had spoken of the BJP “misrule” in terms of jobs, education development and farmers’ issues. Asked about his remark that the “Baba (Yogi Adityanath) just sits in Gorakhpur and rings a bell (while all this is happennig),” and how it would be received by the state’s Hindu voters, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary spoke up.

“Adityanath is not a symbol of Hindu unity, he can be questioned,” Mr Chaudhary said. “This is not an issue about Hindu pride but issues like unemployment. Adityanath said he will give 70 lakh jobs. Today, their own posters say they have given only four lakh jobs,” he added.

Akhilesh Yadav had other questions. “The Chief Minister should answer whether the man sitting in the jeep that mowed down farmers (in Lakhimpur Kheri) was the Union Home Minister’s son or not… Yogi must answer how many cases were against him that he removed himself after becoming the Chief Minister,” he added.



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Women’s Commission Seeks Report On BJP Leader’s Remark About Mumbai Mayor – dot newz

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Kishori Pednekar is the current Mayor of Mumbai. (File)

The Maharashtra State Commission for Women has asked the Mumbai police commissioner to submit a factual report about an alleged objectionable remark passed by BJP leader Ashish Shelar about mayor Kishori Pednekar in connection with the recent cylinder blast in Worli.

Taking to Twitter, the Commission’s chairperson Rupali Chakankar said “insulting” comments made about women by responsible public representatives “will not be tolerated”.

The Commission has, therefore, taken a “serious” note of the comment and asked the Mumbai police chief to submit a factual report in this connection, Ms Chakankar tweeted on Monday night.

In her letter to the police commissioner, Ms Chakankar claimed, “Shelar’s comment ”the Mumbai Mayor visited (those injured in the blast) after 72 hours of the incident, where were you (the mayor) sleeping for these many hours?” is being broadcast in the news media”.

“So, a factual report should be submitted in this connection as per section 12(2) and 12(3) of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women Act, 1993,” she said.

Three members of a family died after a gas cylinder exploded in their home in a chawl in Worli area of central Mumbai.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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