Delhi Hits Emergency Air Pollution Category, Trucks Barred in NCR
Image for Representation (File photo/PTI)
New Delhi: Delhi, by Wednesday evening, officially hit the ‘severe plus’, or emergency, category of air pollution, as the smog refused to abate, and the air quality index (AQI) stood at 493. Delhi NCR’s AQI read 480, according to the 7pm readings.
The Supreme Court constituted body, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) announced the ‘severe plus’ category, according to its Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
On October 18, when the EPCA had announced that Delhi was in the ‘very poor’ category according to GRAP, member and environmentalist Sunita Narain had told the press their effort was to stop Delhi reaching the emergency levels seen in 2016.
Now, however, a series of emergency measures laid out in GRAP, will have to be immediately enforced by the Delhi government, the municipal corporation and all other authorities.
Trucks, except those carrying essential commodities can no longer enter Delhi. Civil construction and demolition activities have to stop. The plan also speaks of introducing the odd-even scheme for private vehicles based on licence plate numbers and with minimal exemptions.
The EPCA wasn’t the only body to take action. Wednesday evening saw the Delhi government and the Lieutenant General’s office announce a host of air pollution control measures, many based on GRAP, after the L-G Anil Bajaj and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had an emergency meeting. It was attended by Delhi’s environment minister, the health secretary, the Central Pollution control Board (CPCB), the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Narain, among others.
Both the government and the L-G office spoke of preparing for the odd even scheme. Delhi government has the notification ready and plans to make less exemptions this time. Odd even will be rolled out if PM2.5 levels cross 500 and PM10 cross 300, and stay so for 48 hours. Two-wheelers will be exempted, however.
The L-G directed the GRAP measures to be enforced and told the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Delhi Transport Corporation to intensify public transport and increase the frequency of metro trips. The Delhi government announced that it would strengthen public transport till March. DTC will float a short tender for 500 buses by Sunday, and DMRC has been requested for 200 or 300 buses for the next 20 odd days.
The L-G also directed the municipal corporation and other concerned authorities in Delhi to intensify mechanical road sweepings and sprinkling of water to control road dust; to increase parking fees four times, to stop people from using private vehicles and to stop the uses of firewood and coal in hotels and eateries. The MCD also has to enforce a ban on use of the pet coke and furnace oil.
The Delhi government will, once again, bring out its army of civil defense volunteers to man the roads and stop people from violating pollution control norms.
A team of former servicemen will be the government’s additional enforcement arm.
Electricity generators have also been banned and the traffic police has been told to step up decongestion of roads activities by the children.
The Uttar Pradesh government has responded too, ordering the “strict implementation” of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) orders to move diesel vehicles over 10 years and petrol vehicles over 15 years in age, in age off the road in the NCR -- Meerut, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bulandshahr.
There is to be no fodder and coal burning in brick kilns in these areas. The union health ministry put out a health advisory, asking people, especially children, to stay indoors if they had trouble breathing, to avoid smoking, using deodorants and room sprays.