NEW DELHI: Despite several preventive measures taken by the authorities to curb rising pollution, the air quality in the national capital turned ‘severe’ on Tuesday.
This is probably for the first time in this season that the air quality in the national capital has reached such levels due to an increase in stubble burning in the neighbouring states.
A thick layer of smog engulfed Delhi's India Gate and other parts of the national capital this morning.
— ANI (@ANI) October 31, 2018
According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) data, major pollutant PM 2.5 was recorded 262 (poor) and PM 10 at 283 (poor) in the Lodhi Road area this morning.
All construction activities banned from Nov 1
Sensing the situation, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) said that the use of private vehicles may be stopped in the national capital if the situation of air pollution gets worse.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has banned all construction activities from November 1 for 10 days and directed the authorities to intensify patrolling in "hot spots".
The EPCA's directions to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee came after it accepted the recommendation of a Central Pollution Control Board-led task force for the period between November 1 to 10 when further deterioration of air is expected due to festival season and stubble burning in neighbouring states.
The order includes a ban on all construction activities involving excavation, civil construction to remain closed in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 1-10, closure of all stone crushers, hot mix plants generating dust pollution in Delhi and NCR districts from November 1-10.
All industries using coal and biomass as fuel (excluding thermal and waste to energy plants) to remain closed in Delhi and NCR districts from November 4-10 is another order.
The EPCA has also asked DPCC to direct transport department and traffic police to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control travel congestion in Delhi and other NCR districts during November 1-10.
It has also asked for intensified patrolling in industrial areas and other hot spots so as to completely control waste burning and industrial emissions.
Following the direction from the EPCA, the DPCC 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.
An EPCA official also said if the air continues to deteriorate further even after the implementation of measures introduced under the emergency plan then they are considering to regulate use of private vehicles.
The EPCA has also asked DPCC to publish in newspapers advisory for public, recommending them to reduce outdoor activities and minimise their travel using private vehicles as much as possible, the official said.
The EPCA has asked DPCC to give the order to all government agencies concerned in this regard, an official said.
Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the AQI at 410.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
Eighteen areas in Delhi recorded 'severe' air quality with the highest AQI at 4 PM recorded at Anand Vihar at 467, according to a data by the CPCB.
Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Noida recorded 'severe' air pollution, crossing the AQI of 400. Greater Noida's air is also on the brink of turning severe, the data said.
SAFAR has attributed the spike to "heavy stubble burning in the last 24 hours and calm winds".
About 28 per cent of pollution by PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) on Tuesday was caused due to regional factors like stubble burning, SAFAR officials said.
Special teams formed to check pollution and violators
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain has announced deploying 44 teams, including from Central departments, from November 1 to keep a check on pollution and violators.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, Hussain said the "urgent campaign" is being jointly organised by the Delhi government and the Centre. "Under the campaign, we appeal to the citizens to strictly avoid activities that add to air pollution," he said.
The 44 teams will comprise SDMs, officers from the municipal corporations, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi Environment Department, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
"From garbage/stubble burning to dusty roads, vehicular emission and use of diesel generators, the teams will be mandated to curb local source of air pollution and take strict action against violators responsible for sources of air pollution across Delhi," Hussain`s office said.
"Strict punitive action will be taken against violators of dust control measures and those burning waste material, plastic, garbage in the open," the Minister said.
The joint campaign will be flagged off at the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jor Bagh, on November 1 by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain.