All government-aided and private schools in Delhi resumed operations on Monday, marking the end of an early winter break, as the restrictions under Stage IV of GRAP were lifted due to a slight improvement in the city’s air quality.
As part of the guidelines set forth by the Directorate of Education (DoE), outdoor sports activities and morning assemblies will remain suspended in schools for the upcoming week.
The closure of schools in Delhi, initiated on November 8 amidst escalating pollution levels and health concerns, came to an end with the DoE’s directive to resume classes for all students from pre-school to class 12.
This decision was made considering the improved Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi and the absence of any immediate indications of a significant decline in the AQI.
Starting from October 28, Delhi grappled with ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ air quality, shrouding the city in a suffocating haze for two consecutive weeks. However, a brief respite was witnessed on November 11 and 12 when Delhiites experienced clear skies and abundant sunshine, attributed to improved air quality just before Diwali, owing to favourable meteorological conditions.
Despite this, the relief was short-lived as the ban on firecrackers during Diwali on November 12 was disregarded, resulting in a surge in pollution levels.
On Saturday, the Centre relaxed stringent measures, including the ban on certain construction activities and the entry of polluting trucks into Delhi, due to a decline in air pollution levels resulting from favourable wind conditions. These measures are categorised under the final stage, Stage IV, of the Centre’s air pollution control plan, the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
However, despite a minor improvement a day prior, the air quality in Delhi and its adjoining areas deteriorated again on Monday. Forecasts suggest that a significant improvement is unlikely in the coming days, with the city’s AQI standing at 338 at 8 am on Monday, indicating a deterioration from 301 at 4 pm and 290 at 7 am on Sunday.
The 24-hour average AQI, recorded at 4 pm each day, was 319 on Saturday, 405 on Friday, and 419 on Thursday, reflecting the persistent challenges faced by Delhi in combating air pollution. (With inputs from PTI)