As air quality improves, CAQM lifts construction ban in Delhi-NCR

CAQM said construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR can resume immediately since air quality in Delhi has improved from the ‘very poor’ category and has been in the ‘poor’ category consistently for the last three days
The Air Quality Index (AQI) across NCR was hovering between the higher end of the ‘poor’ and the lower end of the ‘very poor’ category on Monday. Delhi’s AQI was recorded as 332 (very poor) at 12 noon, Faridabad, Gurugram, Greater Noida were in the ‘poor’ category with readings below 300. (HT Photo/Sanchit Khanna)
The Air Quality Index (AQI) across NCR was hovering between the higher end of the ‘poor’ and the lower end of the ‘very poor’ category on Monday. Delhi’s AQI was recorded as 332 (very poor) at 12 noon, Faridabad, Gurugram, Greater Noida were in the ‘poor’ category with readings below 300. (HT Photo/Sanchit Khanna)
Updated on Dec 20, 2021 02:17 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas on Monday lifted the ban on construction and demolition (C&D) activities in NCR and the ban on entry of petrol and diesel trucks into Delhi with immediate effect, citing an improvement in air quality over the past few days.

In its order issued on Monday morning, CAQM said construction and demolition activities can resume immediately, but each site needed to follow the norms and guidelines laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

All construction and demolition sites in Delhi and the NCR districts of Uttar Pradesh with a plot size of more than 500sqm will, however, also have to register themselves on a ‘web portal’ developed by the state governments for online monitoring by agencies. For Rajasthan and Haryana, where the web portal is yet to be commissioned, the registration process will need to be done latest by January 20, 2022, the CAQM said. HT has reviewed a copy of the order.

Also Read: Political narrative on air quality management in India

Air quality in Delhi has improved from the ‘very poor’ category and has been in the ‘poor’ category consistently for the last three days. The meteorological and weather forecast by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) indicates continuation of this favourable trend of wind speed and climatic conditions to facilitate dispersion of pollutants from the region,” said the CAQM in its order on Monday, underlining that entry of trucks into Delhi was being allowed with immediate effect.

“Construction and demolition activities will also now be permitted, with immediate effect, subject to persons and agencies undertaking C&D activities strictly complying with directions and orders for dust control norms issued by the commission from time to time as well as those under the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules and various CPCB guidelines in this regard,” said the order.

The commission, however, clarified that all units and sites shut down by it or by state governments for violating the norms will not be allowed to reopen under this order. It said each project proponent will be required to approach the commission individually for a review.

The commission first banned construction and demolition activities across NCR on November 16, 2021. This order, which exempted activities notified as “essential, was effective till November 21. The prohibition on construction activities in NCR was, however, re-imposed on November 24, and only non-polluting activities such as interior work, plumbing and electrical activities were allowed to continue. The states concerned were told to pay notified minimum wages to workers.

CAQM extended the ban on December 17 but with relaxations to construction activities for hospitals, nursing homes and healthcare facilities; linear public projects such as highways, roads and flyover and sanitation and public utility projects such as sewage treatment plants and water pumping stations.

The ban on entry of trucks into Delhi has been in place since the November 16 and was extended multiple times over the last one month.

CAQM has already lifted the ban on physical classes at schools, colleges and educational institutes in NCR, along with restrictions on six out of 11 thermal power plants operating within a 300-km radius of Delhi. While the restrictions on thermal power plants were lifted on December 12, the restriction on schools and colleges was lifted five days later on December 17.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) across NCR was hovering between the higher end of the ‘poor’ and the lower end of the ‘very poor’ category on Monday. While Delhi’s AQI was recorded as 332 (very poor) at 12 noon, Faridabad, Gurugram, Greater Noida were in the ‘poor’ category with readings below 300. Ghaziabad and Noida, like Delhi, were in the ‘very poor’ category with readings of 328 and 308 respectively.

An AQI between 101 and 200 is ‘moderate’, between 201 and 300 is ‘poor’, between 301 and 400 is ‘very poor and over 400 is ‘severe’ as per CPCB’s index.

Dipankar Saha, former head of CPCB’s air laboratory, says good wind speed has played a key role in improving air quality across the Indo-Gangetic Plain region.

“If the air is good, we can allow developmental activities to resume and ensure our economy keeps functioning. Trends indicate air quality will not deteriorate too much in the coming days either as a western disturbance will again impact the region,” said Saha.

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