Pollution curbs lifted in India’s capital despite ‘very poor’ air | Environment News

The air quality index in nearly all monitoring stations in New Delhi was between 300 and 400, in the ‘very poor’ category.

Primary schools will reopen in the Indian capital this week and curbs will be lifted on certain construction activities, authorities said, after pollution levels improved to the “very poor” category from “severe”.

A thick layer of smog envelopes New Delhi in winter as cold, heavy air traps construction dust, vehicle emissions and smoke from crop stubble burning in neighboring states, causing a surge in respiratory illnesses among its 20 million people.

The air quality index in nearly all monitoring stations in the city was between 300 and 400 – in the “very poor” category – on Monday, which experts say leads to respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure.

However, it was an improvement on last week’s reading of 400-500 in the index, which is described as “severe”.

A man rows his boat in the Yamuna river amidst heavy smog in the old quarters of Delhi, India November 4, 2022
A man rows his boat in the Yamuna River amid heavy smog in New Delhi [Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

“Directions for work from home amended and offices functioning at full capacity from today,” Gopal Rai, the environment minister of Delhi state, told reporters.

Primary schools will reopen on Wednesday.

The central and state governments ordered the closure of primary schools, banned the entry of diesel vehicles carrying non-essential goods and suspended most construction and demolition activity in the national capital region last week.

Rai said private demolition and construction would remain banned, but public works relating to highways and power transmission will be permitted.

Air quality could worsen later this week, however, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research said on its website.

Last year this time, schools were also ordered to shut amid dangerous levels of air pollution.

A Lancet report in 2020 said almost 17,500 people died in Delhi in 2019 because of air pollution. Another report by Swiss organization IQAir in 2020 found that 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities were in India.

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