Despite slight improvement on Tuesday, Delhi’s air quality is still likely to remain within ‘Very poor’ or upper end of Poor till Wednesday.
According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) data, Delhi is still gasping fro fresh air with an AQI of 321.
The capital's 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) worsened from 339 on Sunday to 354 on Monday. It was 381 on Saturday.
According to the forecasting agencies, Delhi recorded its air quality in the very poor category for the third consecutive day on Monday, but it is likely to deteriorate further in the coming days due to unhelpful meteorological conditions.
Schools to reopen
In view of the improvement in air quality, Delhi government on Monday decided to reopen primary classes from November 9 and revoke the order asking 50 per cent of its staff to work from home in view of improvement in the city's air quality over the last two days.
School principals have welcomed the Delhi government's decision to restart primary classes from Wednesday though environmentalists warned against "knee-jerk reactions".
"The overall education system has already been significantly disrupted during the (COVID-19) pandemic in which the country witnessed long closure of schools. Shifting from offline to online mode was well adopted by teachers and students. But the situation took a toll on the mental well-being of students," Principal of the Modern Public School in Shalimar Bagh, Alka Kapur, said.
BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers to stay off road
However, according to Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai, under stage 3 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers in the national capital will remain banned,
The plan is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in Delhi and its vicinity according to the severity of the situation.
The transport department, in an order, said the vehicles found plying in violation of the rule will be prosecuted under the Motor Vehicles Act, which could invite a fine of Rs 20,000.
Vehicles deployed for emergency services, and government and election-related work are exempted
"There has been a rapid improvement in the air pollution situation in Delhi and farm fires have also reduced. Therefore, it has been decided to reopen primary schools from November 9 and revoke the order asking 50 per cent of the government staff to work from home," the minister said.
Minister Rai said curbs under stage 3 of GRAP will remain in force. Private construction and demolition will remain banned in Delhi, he said.
Rai added that 500 additional buses will be run in the capital under the "Paryavaran Bus Sewa" campaign to bolster public transport.
With air pollution ameliorating in Delhi, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) on Sunday directed authorities to lift the ban on plying of non-BS VI diesel light motor vehicles in the region and the entry of trucks into the national capital imposed under the stage 4 of the GRAP.
It had also banned construction work in public projects such as highways, flyovers, power transmission, and pipelines in Delhi-NCR.
The CAQM order recommending the restrictions was issued on Thursday.
The GRAP classifies the air quality in Delhi-NCR under four different stages: Stage 1 - 'poor' (AQI 201-300); stage 2 - 'very poor' (AQI 301-400); stage 3 - 'severe' (AQI 401-450); and stage 4 - 'severe plus' (AQI >450).
Farm fires in Punjab rebounded -- 2,487 incidents were reported on Monday as compared to 599 a day ago.
However, their share in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution dipped from 18 per cent on Sunday to 14 per cent on Monday, according to data from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and the SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.
The smoke from farm fires are carried to the national capital region by transport-level winds that blow in the lowest two layers of the atmosphere -- the troposphere and stratosphere.
Restrictions under stages 1 to 3 of the GRAP, will, however, remain in place.
High pollution levels had prompted the Delhi government to announce additional measures on Friday, including the closure of primary schools from Saturday and work from home for 50 per cent of its staff.
According to an analysis conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee last year, people in the national capital breathe the worst air between November 1 and November 15 when stubble burning peaks and winters set in.
The Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) released by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago in June showed that residents of Delhi stand to lose 10 years of life expectancy due to poor air quality.
(With PTI Inputs)