Extreme air pollution leads closure of academic institutions in Nepal

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KATHMANDU, March 29 (Xinhua) — The Nepal government decided to close academic institutions across the nation for four days starting Tuesday, as the air condition continued to remain at a hazardous level from Saturday.

An emergency meeting of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Monday led by Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha decided to shut academic institutions from pre-primary to the university level in the wake of adverse weather conditions.

“The schools and colleges had to be closed in an attempt to minimize the exposure of students and teachers to the worsening weather conditions throughout the country,” Deepak Sharma, spokesperson at the ministry, told Xinhua. “We hope the pollution level decreases by next week.”

The pre-scheduled examinations, however, will continue on the pre-scheduled dates.

Around 7.5 million students study in around 31,000 academic institutions across the nation from pre-primary to university level. Minister Shrestha had consulted Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli before making the decision.

The air pollution in Kathmandu and other major cities of the Himalayan nation has remained among the highest in the world since Friday afternoon.

As per AQ Air, a Swiss Group that manages real-time worldwide air quality data in collaboration with the United Nations Environmental Programme, the air quality index, which shows the level of air pollution, was 385 in Kathmandu on Friday evening, making it the most polluted cities in the world during the day. It shows the air quality has remained very unhealthy to hazardous levels for the last three days.

The smoke and haze have covered the skies of Kathmandu and other cities. The officials said the smoke from the wildfires in different places mixed with the haze is responsible for the pollution.

The Ministry of Health and Population on Sunday suggested avoiding travel unless very necessary. “The ministry recommends to avoid travel unless very necessary until the air quality improves. The poor air quality can lead to respiratory problems,” read the statement.

The air quality, according to the officials, will improve once there is rainfall. Enditem

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