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Parking fee hike among solutions to battle Delhi pollution, to be implemented from Oct 15

Emergency plan to fight pollution to come into effect as farmers begin burning stubble and wind direction changes.

cities Updated: Oct 12, 2018 07:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi pollution,stubble burning,odd-even delhi
For this time of the year, officials said, the air quality has been marginally better than last year as weather has been windier – which helps clear local pollution —and farmers in Punjab and Haryana are yet to begin clearing their fields after paddy harvest. (HT File Photo)

Parking fees may be increased and diesel generators banned in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) from Monday, when officials plan to implement the so-called Graded Response Action Plan (Grap), laying down stringent measures and enforcing restrictions to combat air pollution.

The announcement came as farmers said they will begin burning crop residue and weather officials predicted a change in the wind direction – factors that can significantly worsen air quality in the national capital and cities on its outskirts.

Grap, drawn up in response to an increasingly severe air quality crisis that has hit the NCR in recent years during winter, will also trigger restrictions such as the odd-even road rationing scheme and a ban on construction activity if the air quality deteriorates to levels seen in 2016 and 2017 when pollution was briefly considered a public health emergency.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, which met on Thursday, the air quality index has been in the ‘poor’ category since the first week of October and is likely to deteriorate to ‘very poor’ later this month as atmospheric conditions change.

For this time of the year, officials said, the air quality has been marginally better than last year as weather has been windier – which helps clear local pollution —and farmers in Punjab and Haryana are yet to begin clearing their fields after paddy harvest.

The fields are often cleared by setting crop residue on fire, which sends millions of tonnes particulate matter into the atmo–sphere that then drifts and settles over Delhi and adjacent regions.

“Harvest is very late this time because of untimely rains in September. Government also direc–ted us to harvest late because the crop was not ready in many parts. Fires will pick up now. Farmers have no option but to burn stubble because 70% of them haven’t got farm equipment to dispose stubble,” said HS Lakhowal, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab.

According to the India Metrological Department’s inputs to CPCB, wind direction will change to north-northwest from Oct 12, which may bring in pollutants from Haryana and Punjab.

The CPCB asked the Haryana and Punjab governments on Thursday to enforce the ban against stubble burning. This would mean taking action against farmers. “We cannot share the comparative data on stubble burning because it’s a politically sensitive matter,” said Prashant Gargava, member secretary, CPCB.

The CPCB has deployed 41 inspection teams that started monitoring air pollution sources in Delhi-NCR from September 15, and they have found violations such as open dumping of construction and demolition debris, open waste dumping and even garbage burning. A senior official, who asked not to be named, said violations were being reported and agencies will be asked to step up enforcement.

First Published: Oct 12, 2018 07:45 IST