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Will odd-even plan give Delhi the breather it needs?

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 09, 2017

NGT bans all construction activity in NCR with immediate effect

The choking pollution levels in Delhi have pushed the government to bring back the odd-even traffic scheme, starting Monday, an emergency measure which is reserved for the worst pollution levels under the Graded Action Plan.

Dangerous levels

According to figures highlighted in a judgement by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the levels of the pollutants PM10 and PM2.5, already dangerously high, increased between Wednesday and Thursday. The value of PM10 increased from 986 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) on Wednesday to 1136 µg/m3 on Thursday, while PM2.5 rose from 420 µg/m3 to 760 µg/m3. The acceptable values are 100 µg/m3 and 60 µg/m3, respectively.

The odd-even scheme, which has been implemented twice before this, is intended to take off half the private cars in the city in an effort to reduce vehicular pollution to an extent.

Unlike the previous implementation of the traffic rationing scheme, this time it will be enforced for only five days — November 13 to 17.

Negligible impact

However, according to an analysis conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) last year, the scheme had negligible impact on pollution in the phase 1 and 2 of its implementation — January 1-15 and April 15-30 last year.

According to TERI’s analysis, the reduction in pollution levels during the period in which odd-even scheme was implemented last year was merely 7 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, taking a grave note of the health crisis, the NGT on Thursday put a ban on all construction activities in the city with immediate effect.

“The CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) has noted that the pollution level in Delhi and around is severe, and this has been the continuous state of affairs for the last 7-10 days,” the NGT said, while putting halt on all construction activities — private as well as government — until the next date of hearing on November 14.

The daily wage labour involved in such construction activities, however, will continue to be remunerated, the order added.

Even trucks carrying construction materials will not be allowed to ply. Further, it has put the onus of ensuring that no waste is burned on the corporations, Delhi Development Authority, and the public health and environmental departments of Delhi, which will be required to constitute teams of officers who will visit areas under their jurisdictions.

“This shall equally apply to areas and authorities with jurisdiction over Noida, Ghaziabad, Sonipat, Gurugram, Paliwal, Greater Noida, Bahadurgarh. These States shall also inspect if there are any construction material like cement, sand and bajri (gravel) lying uncovered and unprotected in the open, such material shall be seized by the corporation and the owner/builder shall pay environmental compensations in terms of judgement of this Tribunal,” the order further said.

The NGT has also asked for water to be sprinkled in areas wherever the PM10 levels are found in excess of 600 µg/m3 wither “through helicopters or by the fire department.”

“Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) shall be implemented by all States including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (particularly in the NCR districts) to protect and improve air quality,” the tribunal said, while adding that the Badarpur Thermal Power Stattion will remain closed till March 2018.

Published on November 09, 2017
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