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Due to the city's present air pollution levels, all schools in Delhi will be closed starting tomorrow till further notice, according to Environment Minister Gopal Rai. Following the Supreme Court's condemnation of the Delhi government's decision to reopen schools, the minister made the declaration. The Supreme Court today handed the federal government, Delhi, and other neighbouring states a 24-hour deadline to take action to reduce pollution in the National Capital Region."We had reopened schools considering the forecast that air quality would improve. However, the air pollution levels have increased again and we have decided to shut schools from Friday till further orders," Mr Rai said.
Delhi’s air quality started deteriorating after Diwali. On November 13, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that schools will be closed for a week so that students can be kept away from breathing the polluted air. The closure was extended beyond one week as the air quality in the city did not improve significantly.
On November 24, despite recording ‘very poor’ air quality, schools were allowed to reopen for physical classes. Parents had mixed reactions to the decision of the national capital government.
The Supreme Court of India on December 2 expressed dissatisfaction with the measures taken by the Delhi government to control air pollution. Pollution levels has increased in Delhi despite the state government claims, the top court said.
"We feel that nothing is happening and the pollution keeps increasing... only time is being wasted," Chief Justice NV Ramana said during the hearing.
The Supreme Court criticised the Delhi government’s decision to reopen schools and said that "three-year-olds and four-year-olds are going to schools but adults are working from home". "We will appoint somebody to administer your government."
"On schools, there is a lot of debate on 'learning loss'. We reopened with the condition including the option for online," Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented the Delhi government said.
"You are saying you left it optional. But who wants to sit at home? We also have children and grandchildren. We know the problems they have been facing since the pandemic. If you don't take action we will take strict action tomorrow. We are giving you 24 hours," the Chief Justice said.