Delhi Education Minister Atishi on Sunday announced that primary schools in the national capital will be closed till Friday (November 10) as the city's air quality continues to remain 'severe'.
Delhi's overall air quality index (AQI) was 482 in the 'severe' category as of 11:30 am on Sunday, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) service of the Union Ministry of Earth Science.
Atishi also announced that schools have been given the options of conducting classes 6-12 virtually. Earlier, the Delhi government had ordered closure of all primary schools for Friday and Saturday.
Delhi and parts of the surrounding National Capital Region (NCR) continue to be shrouded in thick envelope of smog just like the past few days. Weather conditions and the unabated farm-fires in Punjab have continued to worsen the conditions. Experts have warned of further deterioration of air quality in Delhi-NCR over the next two weeks.
The latest mapping of fires across the world by US space agency NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) shows the overwhelming majority of fires in North India are concentrated in Punjab, also ruled by Delhi CM's Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The rest of the states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh only have isolated incidents of fire.
Noida, which is part of the National Capital Region (NCR), also woke up to 'severe' air quality with almost all of its monitoring stations recording over 400 AQI as of 6 am, according to CPCB data. Gurugram, also in NCR, also recorded 'severe' category air quality on Sunday.
The pollution could also impact Monday's Cricket World Cup match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, to be played in Delhi.
While the Delhi government has held multiple rounds of meetings and has announced a slew of measures, such as increasing 'hotspots', using dust suppressant sprays, and relaunching an initiative to launch vehicular emissions, a respite from bad air remains a distant thought for the residents of Delhi.