New Delhi, November 8, 2023 – As the air quality in the national capital of India, the Delhi government has announced an early winter breaks in Delhi Schools. The Winter break will be in effect from November 9th to November 18th, 2023.
The decision to change the winter break comes as a measure to combat the severe air pollution that has covered the city with thick smog. The announcement stated, “In view of air pollution, the December winter break of all schools has been rescheduled, now to be from November 9-18.”
Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) had consistently been in the “very poor” category till now, when it took a severe turn, crossing the 400-mark (AQI above 400) for the first time this season. On Wednesday, the AQI plummeted into the “severe” zone, raising alarm bells regarding the health and well-being of Delhi’s residents.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) was reported at 395, down from the “severe” category, but the trend over the past few days had been concerning. The data is sourced from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
With the deteriorating air quality, several residents and commuters in Delhi have reported breathing problems, prompting urgent appeals to the government and relevant authorities to take immediate action to curb the escalating air pollution.
One of the key factors contributing to the pollution during this period is stubble burning, a practice often seen in neighboring states. On November 7th, the number of stubble-burning incidents was recorded at 1,515 in Punjab, marking a decrease from the high of 3,230 recorded on November 5th. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh recorded 26 and 169 such incidents on the same day. The sharp increase in stubble-burning incidents after October 28 has significantly contributed to the deteriorating air quality in the region.
Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Delhi’s Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, along with Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot and Revenue Minister Atishi, chaired a meeting involving all relevant departments to ensure compliance with instructions from the Supreme Court regarding pollution control.
The Supreme Court, on its part, has questioned the effectiveness of the Delhi government’s scheme aimed at curbing vehicular pollution, describing it as “all optics.” The apex court has also issued a directive to the states of Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan to halt stubble burning “forthwith,” highlighting the urgency of addressing the pollution crisis.
The early winter break is seen as a proactive measure taken by the Delhi government to protect the health and safety of Delhi students and residents in the face of this environmental crisis. It also serves as a reminder of the critical need for multi-state cooperation to combat air pollution in the region.