Environmental experts have expressed concerns that air quality in Gurgaon will deteriorate further after the weeklong ban on construction was lifted on Monday. Construction work in the city was suspended on November 7 following a week of smog and extremely high air pollution after Diwali on October 30.
Presently, the level of air pollution in the city is ‘critical’. The average PM 2.5 level on Sunday was 149 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³), which increased to 289.54 µg/m³ on Monday, up four times from the permissible limit of 60 µg/m³. PM2.5 is particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter and is a major component of what constitutes air pollution. The particulate matter being very fine can reside in lungs and aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions.
While visibility was not affected on Monday, smog was still present in the city. The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) had on November 7 asked all polluting industrial units to follow guidelines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to reduce air pollution in the region, but data from the Central Pollution Control Board still qualifies the city’s air as ‘poor’.
“We will monitor air quality regularly. However, the level of pollutants might increase as the ban is being lifted from Monday. All measures will be followed and we will also fine industrial sites in the city found violating norms,” said Vijay Chowdhery, environment engineer, HSPCB.
Activists and others working in the field of environmental agreed that lifting the ban on construction will hit air quality. They also held that the pollution watchdog (HSPCB) was not monitoring 17 highly-polluting large and medium industries that have been asked to comply with emission standards issued by the Union ministry of environment and forests.
Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, “The region is experiencing its worst air quality in the past five years and it cannot be controlled if there is no regulation on construction work. As Gurgaon undergoes further large-scale urbanisation, there are a huge number of projects undergoing construction, which hampers air quality.”
Vivek Kamboj, environmentalist, said, “Golf Course Road and sectors 70 to 108 where the new development projects are coming up are all covered in dust. Once the construction work restarts, more dust and pollutants will be released in the atmosphere. The HSPCB does not have any mechanism to monitor the under-construction units.”
After Diwali, the level of pollutants in Gurgaon’s air rose to more than 13 times the permissible level, according to HSPCB data. On November 4, the state pollution control board had recorded the PM2.5 touching over 800 µg/m³, the highest in the past two weeks.