As Delhi’s air quality remained severe on Saturday, authorities extended till November 12 the ban on construction activities, industries using coal and biomass, and entry of trucks, while the CPCB issued show cause notices to police departments and officials of Delhi-NCR over “non-compliance” of the Supreme Court order on sale and bursting of firecrackers.
Delhi-NCR had recorded its worst air quality a day after Diwali on Wednesday, with AQI at 642 in ‘severe plus emergency’ category. On Friday too, the air quality remained ‘severe’ and though the pollution level dipped marginally for a brief period on Saturday morning, it turned severe again by evening.
Noting that the ‘severe +’ situation has continued for 37 hrs, a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-led task force, which reviews the national capital’s air quality, recommended that the ban on construction activities, industries using coal and biomass and entry of trucks should continue till November 12, 2018.
Accepting the recommendations, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority extended the ban, which it had earlier imposed on construction activities and industries using coal and biomass till Saturday and that on the entry of heavy vehicles till Sunday.
More than 450 heavy and medium goods vehicles were sent back from Delhi borders due to the ban on their entry from Thursday night.
The CPCB shot off show cause notices to district magistrates of Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida for not restricting the sale and bursting of unauthorised firecrackers that adversely impacted the air quality.
It also sent show cause notices to police departments of Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon for not restricting the sale and bursting of unauthorised firecrackers that adversely impacted the air quality.
Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Greater Noida recorded severe air quality while Noida and Gurgaon recorded very poor air quality, according to the CPCB.
In a letter, CPCB chairperson S P Singh Parihar has sought a report on the matter from district magistrates and police departments within seven days.
The notices have been sent to the Commissioners of Police of Delhi, Faridabad and Gurgaon and SP of Ghaziabad Noida.
Parihar, in the notice, said it has been reported that firecrackers other than those permitted by the apex court were sold and burst on Diwali in Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida.
“The above status indicates non-compliance of the Supreme Court order,” the letter said.
“Direction is hereby issued to the district magistrate to submit a report on action taken to prevent the sale of unauthorised firecrackers along with the reason for non-compliance of the Supreme Court order,” said the notices to district magistrates and the police departments.
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”.
According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, the increase in PM2.5 concentration is due to stable meteorological conditions trapping of the pollutants in Delhi (very less dispersion) and a significant increase in contribution from stubble burning.
At least 562 cases were registered under Section 188 (disobedience to order promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code in connection with the bursting of firecrackers.
The Supreme Court had allowed people to burst firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. The Supreme Court also allowed manufacture and sale of just the “green crackers” which have a low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.
The court had said the police should ensure that there is no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Police Station of the area would be held personally liable and this would amount to committing contempt of court.
But despite the Supreme Court’s order, certain places recorded violations where firecrackers were burst before and after the set timeframe.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar, 1,559 vehicles were checked and 1,078 vehicles were allowed entry from 11 pm on Friday till 6 am on Saturday as they were carrying essential goods.
As many as 481 vehicles were returned from the Delhi borders, Kumar added.
However, vehicles carrying vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, eggs, ice and other essentials, and tankers carrying petroleum products are exempted from the ban.
The EPCA had late last month accepted the recommendation of the CPCB-led task force and announced the ban on various activities between November 1 to 10 when further deterioration of air was expected due to festival season and stubble burning in neighbouring states.
“It was observed that PM2.5 concentrations have been exceeding 300 µg/m3. As such the ‘severe +’ situation has continued for 37 hrs. Therefore, the task force recommends that ban on construction activities, industries using coal and biomass and entry of trucks, which are in force, should continue till November 12, 2018,” the task force has now recommended to the EPCA. PTI