New Delhi, Nov 7 (EFE).- The authorities in New Delhi on Monday eased several restrictions imposed to curb high pollution in the city after a slight improvement in air quality, which however remains at levels considered “very poor.”
“From the 9th (of November), primary schools will be reopened and outdoor activities can resume” for higher classes, said Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai in a press conference.
The new guidelines are in addition to the measures announced Sunday by the authorities, which lifted the temporary ban on the movement of commercial diesel vehicles. The ban on private construction and demolition work will remain in force.
The relaxation in measures to curb pollution comes after the capital recorded considerable improvement in air quality over the weekend.
Nevertheless, New Delhi continues to remain surrounded by its usual blanket of smog, making it difficult to see and breathe.
The concentration of PM2.5 particles – those with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns and very dangerous to health – touched 156 micrograms per cubic meter early Monday, according to the government’s Pollution Control Committee.
Last week, the concentration of PM2.5 particles exceeded 300 micrograms per cubic meter for the first time this year, which is several times above levels considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO recommends a maximum daily exposure for PM 2.5 at less than 15 micrograms per cubic meter.
The air quality index (AQI) improved from the “severe” category at above 400 – on a scale having a maximum of 500 points – to “very poor” category with levels above 300.
“Further decisions will depend on if there is an improvement of AQI,” the environment minister added at the press conference.
An alarming deterioration in New Delhi’s air quality is common at this time of year, when a number of factors coincide, such as the arrival of winter and the decrease in wind velocity that prevent the dispersal of pollutants.
The toxic air comprises of vehicle emissions, building dust, particles originating from burning stubble in agricultural areas and the constant burning of solid waste in this city of 20 million inhabitants. EFE