Schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Delhi will reopen from November 29, Environment minister Gopal Rai said on Wednesday, reported ANI. Rai said that the decision was taken as the air quality in the national Capital had improved.
Schools and other educational institutions were closed on November 13 due to the worsening air pollution levels in the national Capital and adjoining areas. The Delhi government had then extended the closure order twice.
The decision to shut schools, along with several other measures to tackle pollution, were taken as air quality in Delhi and its neighbouring cities deteriorated after Diwali on November 4, shrouding the region in a toxic smog.
The air pollution in the Capital usually gets worse in October and November because of unfavourable wind speed and emission of fumes by the local traffic in the city.
Stubble burning by farmers in Delhi’s neighbouring states has often been blamed for the pollution, but the Centre told the Supreme Court last week that burning of farm waste accounted for just 10% of the emissions on an average through the year.
On Wednesday, Rai said that Delhi government offices will also reopen from November 29. The government had earlier asked its employees to follow work-from-home policy in view of the pollution.
“We advise them to use public transport to commute,” he said. “Special bus services will be started from colonies where the maximum number of Delhi government employees reside.”
Last week, the government had also banned the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items from other states in the national Capital till Sunday.
On Wednesday, Rai said that the government has decided to allow the entry of only compressed natural gas and electric vehicles into Delhi from November 27. “The entry of all other vehicles to remain banned till 3rd December,” he added.
Meanwhile, real-time data available on System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or Safar, at 2 pm on Wednesday showed that Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index at 328.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good’’, 51 and 100 “satisfactory’’, 101 and 200 “moderate’’, 201 and 300 “poor’’, 301 and 400 “very poor’’, and 401 and 500 “severe’’.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre and state governments, observing that measures were being taken to curb air pollution in Delhi only when the situation becomes severe.
“This is the national Capital, imagine the signal we are sending to the world,” the court observed.
The court said a statistical model was needed to allow taking anticipatory measures to control air pollution in the national Capital. To this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the Centre would not wait for the air pollution level to turn severe.
On Monday, the Delhi government had lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities with Rai saying that the city’s air quality had improved.