Primary schools in Delhi to remain closed till November 10 amid 'severe plus' AQI
New Delhi : Delhi's Education Minister, Atishi, made an important announcement regarding the ongoing air pollution crisis in the national capital. She stated that due to persistently high pollution levels, primary schools in Delhi will remain closed until November 10. In addition to this decision, Atishi also revealed that for students in grades 6 to 12, the option to transition to online classes is being extended.
Atishi announced this on social media platform, underscoring the government's commitment to safeguarding the well-being of the city's school children. The decision comes at a time when pollution levels in Delhi once again entered the "severe plus" category due to unfavorable wind conditions, especially calm winds during the night. This toxic haze has plagued Delhi for the past six days, prompting immediate action.
“As pollution levels continue to remain high, primary schools in Delhi will stay closed till 10th November. For Grade 6-12, schools are being given the option of shifting to online classes,” she announced on social media X.
The air quality index (AQI) further deteriorated from 415 on Saturday afternoon to 460 on Sunday morning, indicating the alarming escalation of pollution. As a response to the worsening situation, the Central government's air pollution control plan mandates the initiation and enforcement of emergency measures, including the prohibition of polluting trucks, commercial four-wheelers, and all forms of construction activities within the National Capital Region if the AQI exceeds the 450-mark.
The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulate matter known for its ability to deeply penetrate the respiratory system, far exceeded the government-prescribed safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter, reaching up to seven to eight times that limit across various locations in Delhi-NCR. This level was alarmingly high, ranging from 80 to 100 times the safe limit of 5 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization.
The decline in air quality in Delhi-NCR over the past week can be attributed to a combination of factors, including a gradual drop in temperatures, stagnant winds that trap pollution, and a surge in post-harvest paddy straw burning in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana.
Data from the Central Pollution Control Board reveals a stark increase in Delhi's air quality index, with a rise of over 200 points between October 27 and November 3, culminating in the declaration of the "severe plus" category on Friday. The 24-hour average AQI on that day was recorded at 468, the worst since November 12, 2021.
Not only Delhi but its neighboring areas, such as Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Noida, Greater Noida, and Faridabad, reported hazardous air quality with AQI values above 400, raising concerns for the residents' health and well-being.
To address the escalating pollution crisis, Delhi's Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, has taken action by writing to Union Minister Bhupender Yadav, requesting a ban on the entry of vehicles that do not comply with BS-VI emission standards from neighboring states into Delhi-NCR. Additionally, he has urged an emergency meeting of environment ministers from the neighboring states to formulate a collective response.