Air quality issues in the Delhi-NCR region, schools in Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram, and Faridabad are considering shifting to online learning and have temporarily suspended all outdoor activities to safeguard students’ health. This includes the cancellation of morning assemblies, sports events, annual sports days, and inter-school competitions scheduled for this week due to the hazardous haze covering the region.
Delhi Primary Schools Closed Until November 10 as Pollution Levels Soar
Amid escalating pollution levels in Delhi, Education Minister Atishi has ordered the closure of primary schools until November 10. Additionally, students in grades 6-12 are offered the option to shift to online classes due to the city’s hazardous air quality. Unfavorable wind conditions have caused a toxic haze to persist for the sixth consecutive day, prompting the government to direct 50% of office staff to work from home. While Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida, and Ghaziabad face similar air pollution challenges, no school closures have been announced yet, but online classes are being considered by the respective state governments.
“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,” tweets Delhi Education Minister Atishi [ANI] | #Delhi-NCR #AirPollution Updates:… pic.twitter.com/oCSjNjNgCS
— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) November 5, 2023
Delhi Air Quality Remains ‘Severe’ for the Fifth Consecutive Day
The air quality in the National Capital persists in the ‘severe’ category for the fifth consecutive day, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. Data from the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR-India) reports an air quality index of 488, up from 410 in the previous day’s readings. In response to the escalating pollution, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has scheduled a meeting with all relevant departments to address the issue.
Strict Implementation of GRAP-4 to Curb Air Pollution in Delhi
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has invoked Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) across the entire National Capital Region (NCR) to combat deteriorating air quality. This step complements the restrictions outlined in Stages I to III. The 8-point action plan entails a ban on truck traffic entry into Delhi (excluding essential commodity transport), restricted movement of Delhi-registered diesel-operated Medium and Heavy Goods Vehicles, and the potential discontinuation of physical classes for students in grades VI-IX and class XI, with online lessons in consideration.
Stringent Measures Implemented Under GRAP Stage IV to Combat Air Pollution
Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has introduced a series of critical actions to address the escalating air pollution crisis. These actions encompass banning most truck traffic entry into Delhi, barring the operation of Delhi-registered diesel-run Medium Goods Vehicles (MGVs) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) in the city (except for essential services), exploring the transition to online lessons and remote work for students and office staff, and potentially instituting additional measures like the closure of educational institutions and an odd-even vehicle registration system.
Stubble Burning in Neighbouring States Continues to Plague Delhi’s Air Quality
The persistent issue of stubble burning in neighbouring states such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab remains a significant contributor to the deteriorating air quality in the national capital. A parallel situation unfolded in Bathinda, Punjab, where the Air Quality Index (AQI) stayed in the “very poor” category, registering an overall AQI of 215.
NGT Urges States to Take Swift Action for Improved Air Quality
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a directive, urging the Chief Secretaries of states grappling with air quality concerns to promptly implement remedial measures. The NGT underscores the critical need to safeguard public health and enhance air quality conditions in affected cities, stressing the importance of swift action.
Alarming Air Pollution Crisis in Delhi: Urgent Action Required
Delhi’s air quality remains one of the world’s poorest among capital cities, carrying significant health risks. Research by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago reveals that air pollution is reducing life expectancy in Delhi by nearly 12 years. This crisis has compelled residents to abstain from outdoor activities, with children at heightened risk due to greater exposure to pollutants. The gravity of the situation emphasizes the immediate necessity for comprehensive interventions to combat air quality issues in the nation’s capital.
Critical Air Quality Levels in Delhi Pose Grave Health Risks
Health experts stress that a healthy individual’s ideal Air Quality Index (AQI) should remain below 50. Presently, the AQI has surged well beyond 400, signifying a severe threat to those with respiratory ailments and an alarming potential for lung cancer. The hazardous air quality conditions demand immediate attention and intervention to safeguard public health.