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Norway may classify New Delhi posting a ‘hardship’

At least one European country is considering classifying New Delhi as a “hardship” posting on account of the increasing air-pollution level in the city. Similarly, an international school in the city have cancelled outdoor activities for students as the city gasps for breath.

As the capital reeled under a thick blanket of smog on Tuesday, the Delhi Pollution Control Board recorded levels of particulate matter at least 16 times higher than what is considered safe.The Norwegian embassy is considering a hardship allowance for those posted in Delhi, due to the air pollution. “Hardship allowance is a global concept, and dependent on many factors that also include air pollution. Every country is categorized for hardship based on political, social, environmental and other parameters, and only one factor does not determine this level. However, it is at present discussed whether air pollution should be given additional weight when hardship classification is determined,” said the embassy’s press officer.Meanwhile, the American Embassy School in Delhi has cancelled outdoor activities till the pollution levels decrease, said Siddhartha Dubey, a parent.

“We get a daily mail from the director with the latest readings of the air pollution index of the U.S. embassy website. For now, there is no outside aerobic activity but the school has indoor purifiers. We have been living in Delhi for the last five years and with each passing year, pollution levels are increasing. I am very upset as a parent. This has become a public health issue that can no longer be ignored,” he said.

The Central Pollution Control Board defines an air quality index reading of 0-50 as “good”, 51-100 as “satisfactory”, 301-400 as “very poor” and 401-500 as “severe”. For the past week, Delhi has recorded around 500 units and the air quality has been categorized as “hazardous”.

While the air quality in the city, which is home to 16 million people, is expected to deteriorate post-Diwali as winter sets in, the Delhi government is yet to issue a health advisory over the current air quality.

Coal fires used to cope with the winter months, combined with traffic fumes, have led to an increase in temperature with complete lack of wind. However, the government has not raised any alarm over the current air quality and no advisories have been issued to the public.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2020 9:14:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/norway-may-classify-new-delhi-posting-a-hardship/article7942186.ece

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