In response to the escalating air pollution crisis in the national capital, the Delhi government has decided to prolong the closure of all primary schools up to class 5 until November 10. Additionally, schools for classes 6-12 are now offered the option to shift to online classes.
Originally, the Delhi government had announced the closure of primary schools up to class 5 until November 5. However, with the air quality in the city deteriorating, an extension became necessary.
Delhi’s Education Minister, Atishi, expressed the situation, stating, “As pollution levels continue to remain high, primary schools in Delhi will stay closed until 10th November. For Grade 6-12, schools are being given the option of shifting to online classes.”
This decision is driven by the alarming air quality in Delhi, which remained severely polluted for the sixth consecutive day with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 460.
The ongoing toxic smog has raised concerns among medical professionals regarding the increasing number of respiratory and eye ailments, particularly among children and the elderly.
Microscopic PM2.5 particles, known to pose health risks by penetrating deep into the lungs, have surged to levels seven to eight times higher than the government’s safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter in multiple locations across Delhi-NCR over the past few days. This exceeds the World Health Organization’s safe limit of 5 micrograms per cubic meter by 80 to 100 times.
The Central government’s strategy to combat pollution mandates the implementation of urgent air pollution control measures, including a ban on polluting trucks, commercial four-wheelers, and all construction activities, if the AQI surpasses 450.
The air quality in Delhi-NCR has deteriorated in the past week due to falling temperatures, stagnant winds hindering pollution dispersion, and a surge in post-harvest paddy stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.
Delhi’s AQI soared by more than 200 points between October 27 and November 3, entering the “severe plus” category (above 450) on Friday, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). While there was a slight improvement from 468 at 4 pm on Friday to 413 at 6 am on Saturday, the 24-hour average AQI of 468 on Friday was the worst since November 12, 2021.
Delhi’s air quality ranks among the worst among capital cities globally, with a University of Chicago report indicating that air pollution reduces life expectancy by almost 12 years.