New Delhi: The air quality of Delhi and neighbouring areas deteriorated on Tuesday, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was 401, falling in the ‘severe’ category for the first time this season, with a rise in particle pollutants overnight. Various sources are considered responsible for this annual issue of pollution in the NCR, these sources include vehicular pollution, industrial pollution, domestic and industrial waste burning, agriculture waste burning in the neighbouring states and even festival waste. Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has already ordered the pollution control panels of Delhi and neighbouring states to stop all the dust generating construction activities from November 1 to 10, when the pollution is supposed to peak due to festival season and stubble burning in neighbouring states.
Following the orders from the EPCA, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) directed government agencies to intensify patrolling in ‘hot spots’ with “no tolerance for visibly polluting vehicles”. Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), an emergency action plan by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in compliance with EPCA’s directives, was implemented on October 15. It contains measures to be implemented as and when the air quality deteriorates in the city. As the air quality fell in severe category, when AQI is between 401-500, measures like frequent sprinkling of water, cleaning of roads, identifying road stretches with high dust generation were executed.
From banning construction activities, halting operations of industries using coal and biomass as fuel and considering regulating use of private vehicles, here are the additional measures taken by the authorities to tackle pollution between November 1 and 10 in addition to GRAP.
Additional Measures Taken By Authorities To Tackle Air Pollution
- The DPCC has ordered halt of all construction activities involving excavation, civil construction to remain closed in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1-10, besides closure of all stone crushers, hot mix plants generating dust pollution in Delhi and NCR districts.
- All industries using coal and biomass as fuel (excluding thermal and waste to energy plants) will remain closed in Delhi and NCR districts from November 4-10.
- The DPCC has directed the transport department and traffic police to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control traffic congestion in Delhi and other NCR districts during November 1-10.
- The EPCA has also asked DPCC to publish in newspapers advisory for public, recommending reduce outdoor activities and minimise their travel using private vehicles as much as possible. The Delhi Metro has introduced 21 additional trains that would provide 812 additional trips. The civic agencies are, however, yet to increase parking fees, a measure listed under GRAP. The transport department has also not introduced any extra buses to increase availability of public transport.
- The authorities are also considering regulating use of private vehicles in the wake of an alarming rise in air pollution in Delhi. There are a total of 35 lakh private vehicles in the Delhi-NCR region. In 2016, the odd-even scheme was enforced twice in the city, between January 1-15 and April 15-30, when vehicles having odd and even number plates were allowed to ply on alternate days.
- SAFAR also issued a health advisory for public, asking Delhi citizens to not rely on dust masks for protection. The agency has advised citizens to avoid all outdoor activities and give a miss to morning walks. “If the room has windows, close them, if the air conditioner provides a fresh air intake option then choose it, avoid burning anything such as wood, candle or even incense,” it said. The advisory also recommended frequent wet mopping and using masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators only for outdoor activities.
- “Timings and locations as envisaged in the Supreme Court’s order for bursting of firecrackers would be strictly adhered to. Further only eco-friendly fire crackers would be sold after proper authorisation has been obtained from Petroleum and Safety Organization (PESO), any other kind of firecrackers would not be permitted to be sold in the NCR region as per the order of the Supreme Court.” The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has said in a statement.
- The CPCB has started Facebook and Twitter accounts where residents can lodge complaints pertaining to garbage burning, unpaved roads etc. The government has cancelled leaves of environment department officials.
Delhi Police and the District Magistrates of Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad have been requested to ensure that these measures are strictly implemented in their respective areas. About 44 joint teams will be deployed from November 1 by the Delhi government to check air pollution in the national capital. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet, said his government is doing its “best to check pollution”.
Delhi govt is doing its best to check pollution. https://t.co/LCZn4VMjAI
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) October 30, 2018
Following the direction from the EPCA, the DPCC has notified Delhi Development Authority, Navratna Central Public Sector, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Delhi Transport Corporation, National Highway Authority of India, India Meteorological Department, New Delhi Municipal Council, South Delhi Municipal Council, East Delhi Municipal Council and Public Works Department to enforce these measures.
With inputs from PTI.
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