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Delhi schools to reopen today, air quality in city still in ‘very poor’ category

Delhi’s environment minister Gopal Rai had on Wednesday (November 24) announced the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s decision to reopen educational institutions after the air quality levels in the city showed improvement.
The overall air quality still remained in the ‘very poor’ category in Delhi. In picture - School children walk amid smog in New Delhi.(PTI | Representational image)
Published on Nov 29, 2021 06:17 AM IST
Written by Srivatsan K C | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Delhi, that have remained closed for over two weeks due to hazardous air quality levels in the national capital, are set to reopen on Monday. Delhi’s environment minister Gopal Rai had on Wednesday (November 24) announced the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s decision to reopen educational institutions after the air quality levels in the city showed improvement.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led government in Delhi on November 13 announced that schools and educational institutions would be closed for a week’s period to avoid the exposure of students to dangerous air quality levels. Construction activities were also banned during the period and offices were directed to adopt work-from-home as much as possible.

While the ban was initially imposed for a week, it was further extended due to plunging levels of the air quality index (AQI) in the city. Schooling was continued fully on the online mode, as was the case during the Covid-induced lockdowns.

Also read | Little breathing space: Third day of ‘severe’ air in Delhi

The decision from the Delhi government to halt physical classes came after the Supreme Court expressed concerns over high pollution levels and exposing school-going children to dangerous conditions. The top court had suggested a two-day lockdown as an immediate measure to the Centre to help in tackling air pollution. Following this, Kejriwal called for an emergency meeting in which the decisions to shut schools and halt construction activities were made.

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However, after another high-level meeting on Wednesday last week, Rai announced that the schools and other institutions would be reopened on Monday (November 29). Also, as part of its efforts to compensate construction workers who have been affected by the ban, the Delhi government had announced that a sum of 5,000 would be deposited in the bank accounts of each worker, news agency ANI had earlier reported.

From installing smog towers to launching traffic related measures such as the ‘red light on gaadi off’ campaign, the Delhi government has adopted many measures to tackle air pollution. Rai and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia have urged the public to rely on public transport rather than private vehicles.

Also read | Challenge accepted: Sisodia issues list of 250 Delhi schools to compare with those in Punjab

Meanwhile, the overall air quality still remained in the ‘very poor’ category in Delhi. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) said that slight improvement in conditions are on the cards with the local surface winds likely to increase moderately on November 29 and 30 that would increase the dispersion of pollutants.

“From 1st December wind speed and temperature are likely to decrease reducing ventilation leading to slight deterioration of air quality. Low mixing layer height is preventing efficient dispersion of pollutants. The share of stubble burning related pollutants in Delhi’s PM2.5 is 3%,” SAFAR said.

(With agency inputs)

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