Delhi pollution: Delhi govt revives ban on construction after SC order
New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court ordered a ban on construction across the National Capital Region (NCR) until further orders, the Delhi government on Thursday re-imposed the ban on construction and demolition (C&D) activities in the city and said the labour department is working out a financial assistance scheme to help daily wage labourers affected by the ban.
“The Supreme Court had issued an order last night in this regard and considering that, all construction and demolition work in Delhi is being banned again. Plumbing, interior decoration, electric work, and carpentry work will be allowed, but apart from that, all construction and demolition work is being stopped,” said Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Thursday, adding that government agencies were already working towards implementing the Supreme Court’s orders to control air pollution levels in Delhi.
Noting that the government is keeping a close eye on air quality, the minister said the current ban will stay in place until the situation improves.
“We are mentally prepared for everything. If the situation improves, we will consider the prospect of reopening and if the situation worsens, we will take more actions as required. For the past week, because construction and demolition work was halted, construction workers had been facing trouble, so the government has now decided to provide financial assistance to these workers. For this, we will work with the labour department and prepare an outline,” he said.
The minister also said that the government is encouraging use of public transport services, pointing out that CNG buses are being used to ferry government employees from highly concentrated areas such as Timarpur and Gulabi Bagh.
“Along with that, we are also starting a shuttle bus service for all the nearest Metro stations so that people coming from the Metro can reach the office more conveniently. Trucks entering Delhi from outside, except for essential services and trucks running on CNG and electricity, have already been stopped,” said Rai on Thursday.
Construction activities in Delhi were halted for a period of five days, from November 16-21, following which the ban was lifted on November 22.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said all measures listed under the ‘severe’ category and below of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) are already in place in Delhi, and added that extreme measures such as closure of schools and construction activities come under the ‘emergency’ category. “These measures only need to be taken when forecasts show air quality will become extremely bad in the coming days and stay in that range for some time. However, we already have a number of existing measures in place and it is important to enforce them better. Monitoring existing measures is critical,” she said.
Delhi and the National Capital Region, in an annual winter rerun, has been in the grip of hazardous air pollution as a toxic smog lingers over the Capital and its adjoining cities, leading to a public health emergency. This November has also seen the number of farm fires reaching a new high with the enforcement of a ban on the practice collapsing.
The city’s pollution levels on Wednesday began to worsen as winds weakened. The air quality index (AQI) was “poor” on Tuesday - for the first time since November 1 - with a reading of 290 recorded, according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s 4pm bulletin. The AQI shot up to 361 — in the “very poor” category — at 4pm on Wednesday, and touched 400, on the brink of “severe category”, according to Thursday’s bulletin.