Delhi issues 14-point guidelines for construction firms to curb dust pollution
Ahead of the annual winter pollution spike in the national capital, the Delhi government on Friday issued an ultimatum to construction agencies, as it released a 14-point set of dust mitigation guidelines and gave them 15 days to adhere to the directions to control dust pollution in their sites. The move comes days after the state government banned the sale, storage and use of firecrackers on Diwali, to be celebrated on November 4 this year.
Addressing the media on Friday, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said he issued the guidelines at a meeting with over 50 private construction agencies in the city.
“We held a meeting at the Delhi secretariat today [on Friday] with all the private agencies doing construction work in Delhi today and apprised them about the guidelines issued by the Delhi government to check dust pollution. During this meeting, suggestions were also taken from the representatives of private construction agencies,” Rai said.
The national capital’s air quality starts deteriorating every year around mid-October when crop stubble burning starts in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana. This, along with Delhi’s own local pollution sources and unfavourable weather conditions such as low wind speeds make things worse for the Capital every winter. Dust and debris from construction sites also exacerbate the city’s pollution problem, which has forced the state to issue curbs on such activities during the winter. Despite a blanket ban on crackers for the last four years, unchecked cracker bursting also contributes to Delhi’s hazardous winter air.
The state government will release a holistic winter action plan by September 30 this year, for which agencies have been asked to submit their own plans by September 21.
The government’s 14-point guidelines for construction agencies included that all construction agencies in Delhi will have to mandatorily cover the periphery of their sites with tin walls of appropriate height so that dust from the site does not blow out. Further, all sites operating in an area over 20,000 sqm built up area will need to install anti-smog guns to ensure that dust generated is settled.
The guidelines also mandate that the agencies cover construction material with a tarpaulin or a green net; ensure that vehicles carrying construction material and debris are regularly cleaned and its wheels washed; the construction material are fully covered during transportation and does not spill onto the roads; and that material is stored properly on-site and is not dumped along roads and pavements.
Rai said that agencies will also need to ensure that no construction material or construction and demolition waste is left uncovered.
“It was also advised that wet jets be used for the cutting and grinding of stones. Such activity will not be allowed in the open. Unpaved surfaces and areas with loose soil should be adequately sprinkled with water to suppress dust, roads around construction sites must be paved and blacktopped, and construction and demolition waste should be recycled on-site or transported to authorised recycling facility and due record of the same should be maintained,” Rai said.
Apart from these, agencies were also asked to provide adequate safety gear such as masks to all workers involved in activities such as loading, unloading and handling of construction material and waste. .
Rai also stressed on his government’s focus on fighting the pollution levels in Delhi that tend to rise every winter and urged the cooperation of all government and private agencies, and public participation in this fight.
“We all have to fight for our breath together. Therefore, all of us will have to fulfil our responsibility with full sincerity. All private agencies should appoint an employee at their construction sites to see whether the norms are being followed or not. Everyone has to make changes in their daily behaviour,” he added.
The Delhi government had issued a similar set of guidelines last year before the pollution season, and several construction agencies, including government and government-funded agencies such as the Public Works Department (PWD) and the NBCC (India) Limited, were slapped with hefty fines for violating dust mitigation guidelines.
Earlier this week, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also announced a complete ban on the sale, storage and use of firecrackers in the Capital this Diwali.