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Commission For Air Quality Management Prompts Collective Action As Delhi’s AQI Falls To Severe Category

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New Delhi: Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and adjoining areas has intensified its efforts on Friday to ensure enforcement and compliance with its directions after the air quality of Delhi-NCR plunged to the “severe” category.

The capital witnessed a drop to the severe category for the first time this season due to poor dispersion of pollutants owing to weak winds, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The forecast of the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi is likely to be in the “Poor” and “Very Poor” categories given the unfavorable climatic and meteorological conditions that generally prevail in the NCR during winters and the occurrence of farm fires.

Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha that Severe category AQI is very dangerous for health and it affects even healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases.

“In such circumstances, the school should be closed and outdoor movement should be prohibited because severe category AQI impacts all aspects of life,” Jha said.

As per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the commission has been informing and sensitizing all stakeholders (industrial houses, commercial establishments, construction agencies, State Govt. / GNCTD agencies, ULBs in NCR and the public at large) about the preventive, mitigative and restrictive actions required to be taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

Stage-I and Stage-II of the revised GRAP were invoked by the Commission on October 5 and October 19 respectively.

“Besides GRAP and a comprehensive “Policy to curb air pollution in NCR”, various statutory directions, advisories and orders including have been issued by the Commission from time to time for appropriate measures by various agencies concerned,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The statement further said that the standard approved fuel list for NCR bans the use of heavily polluting fuels like coal, furnace oil etc. Biomass fuels with stricter emission norms have however been permitted in NCR, outside the territorial jurisdiction of GNCTD considering the huge availability and need to promote environmentally sustainable use of biomass.

“The Commission in association with the State Governments has launched a drive for shifting all industries in NCR to cleaner fuels as per the approved list,” the Ministry added.

The Commission has issued closure directions to 45 coal-based industrial units in Rajasthan. 32 coal-based units (9 in Haryana and 23 in UP) have been closed down permanently. 48 units (8 in Haryana and 40 in UP) have temporarily suspended their operations till these units are converted to approved fuels.

With the prime objective to abate the air pollution levels in the NCR, the Commission has intensified incognito field inspections through Flying Squads towards better enforcement and monitoring of compliance with all relevant air pollution-related statutes and guidelines.

The focus of incognito inspections at this stage has been on compliance with statutory directions of the Commission, particularly for the following use of only “approved fuels” in NCR adherence to emission standards in industries and effectiveness of Emission Control Devices (ECD)Enforcement and effectiveness of dust control measures in C&D activities and road projects Enforcement of regulations on the use of DG Sets Effective actions as per the GRAP.

The Commission has stated that since invoking the GRAP Stage-I w.e.f. October 6, a total of 472 incognito inspections have been carried out by the Commission in industrial areas and construction projects across NCR and 52 grossly violating units/ projects have been issued closure orders. Closure orders have been issued to 24 grossly violating industrial units. Of these, 5 industrial units were still found using coal and other unapproved polluting fuels.

The Commission is also monitoring the compliance of directions for C&D projects. As per norms C&D projects on plot areas greater than 500 sq. mtr. are required to register on a web portal for remote online monitoring, besides adhering to various directions of CAQM, rules and guidelines related to dust mitigating measures.

28 project sites still not registered on the web portal and/or violating the statutory directions, dust control norms and related guidelines have been issued closure directions by the Commission. Closure directions also mandate the imposition of deterrent Environment Compensation charges, besides action for prosecution under the provisions of the CAQM Act.

The Commission urges all stakeholders to comply with and follow the statutory directions of the Commission to avoid closure notices and/ or penal action and contribute towards better air quality for NCR.

(With Agency Inputs)

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