Schools to remain closed and restrictions imposed on roads in New Delhi due to pollution
New Delhi, India – In response to rising pollution levels, schools in the Indian capital, New Delhi, will remain closed and restrictions on vehicle movement will be implemented, announced state Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday. The decision comes as the city grapples with poor air quality, with large areas recording severe levels of pollution in recent days.
At a press conference, Rai stated that all schools, except classes 10 and 12, will remain closed until November 10. Classes up to 5th grade had already been suspended earlier due to the deteriorating air quality. Alongside the school closures, restrictions on vehicle movement will be enforced through an odd-even vehicle scheme from November 13 to 20. The scheme requires vehicles to consider the last digits of their license plates, allowing vehicles with odd-numbered plates to circulate on odd dates and those with even-numbered plates on even dates.
The restrictions will be imposed the day after Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, which is often celebrated with fireworks. Despite a ban on fireworks in Delhi, their use remains widespread and significantly contributes to the worsening air quality in the city.
The main pollutant in the air has been identified as PM 2.5 particles, as reported by the National Air Quality Index (AQI) published by the Central Pollution Board. PM 2.5 particles, including sulphate, nitrates, and black carbon, have been linked to adverse health effects such as impairing cognitive and immune functions, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.
To combat the deteriorating air quality, New Delhi has implemented various measures based on AQI levels. These include prohibiting construction work related to public projects, restricting the entry of polluting trucks into the capital, and requiring all public and private offices to have 50% of their staff work from home.
The proposed restrictions on schools and roads aim to alleviate the pollution crisis in the city and safeguard the health of its residents. With the implementation of these measures, authorities hope to improve air quality and reduce the adverse effects of pollution on the population.
(city skyline photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)