New Delhi, Nov 05: In response to the ‘severe’ air quality in the national capital, the Delhi government has extended the closure of all primary schools until November 10.
This decision comes in light of worsening pollution levels that have left the city shrouded in smog and affected residents’ health.
Delhi’s Education Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Atishi, made the announcement via Twitter on Sunday. Moreover, students in grades 6-12 have been given the option to attend online classes during this period.
This move follows the earlier closure of all government and private primary schools until November 2, as announced by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The decision was a response to the rapidly deteriorating air quality in the city. In light of these conditions, classes for students in grades Nursery to V have been shifted to online mode, discontinuing in-person instruction on November 3 and 4.
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Air quality in Delhi has consistently remained in the ‘severe’ category, and on Sunday, the overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 460. On the previous Saturday, Delhi recorded an average AQI of 415.
This severe air quality has also affected the neighboring cities of Noida and Gurugram, which are part of the National Capital Region (NCR). These areas have likewise reported ‘severe’ AQI levels since Friday.
Gopal Rai, Delhi’s Environment Minister, explained the government’s focus, stating that efforts are being made to strictly enforce measures to combat pollution, such as preventing construction work and vehicles that contribute to air pollution, banning BS3 petrol and BS4 diesel vehicles, controlling garbage and biomass burning, and promoting the use of public transport over private vehicles.
The government has also requested that the rules of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) be implemented across the NCR. Currently, these rules are not fully adhered to, especially regarding diesel buses.
To address the hazardous air quality, the central government has initiated Stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), imposing restrictions to curb pollution. These measures include a ban on non-essential construction work, mining, and stone crushing, as well as limitations on the operation of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel vehicles in several regions, including Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Gurugram, and Faridabad.
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has also introduced various measures to combat air pollution in the city, such as the use of Mechanical Road Sweepers (MRS) for wet sweeping, the deployment of anti-smog guns, and the sprinkling of water on trees and shrubs along major roads in the national capital using 18,000 water tankers and trolleys. These efforts aim to mitigate the adverse effects of air pollution and protect the health of Delhi’s residents.