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Delhi air pollution: Panel orders cut in Metro fare, 4-fold hike in parking fee

With New Delhi reeling due to air pollution, a public health emergency was declared on Tuesday, as a choking blanket of smog descended on the world’s most polluted capital city.

delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2017 19:06 IST
Ritam Halder
Ritam Halder
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Delhi air pollution,Air pollution,Delhi smog
Commuters drive amid heavy smog in New Delhi on Tuesday. The city woke up to a choking blanket of smog as air quality in the world's most polluted capital city reached hazardous levels. (AFP)

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution and Control Authority (Epca) on Tuesday ordered a four-time hike in parking fee and a cut in Metro fare in a series of emergency measures, as Delhi’s air pollution spiked to severe level.

The Epca also asked governments of Delhi and neighbouring states to prepare for road rationing, better known as odd-even scheme, if pollution levels touch the emergency threshold. The parking fee hike will apply to NCR towns as well.

Under the graded response action plan mandated by the Supreme Court for tackling air pollution, emergency is declared when the Air Quality Index (AQI) shoots beyond 500. On Tuesday 4.30pm, AQI was at 436.

“Delhi and all state governments in NCR to immediately intensify public transport service by ensuring there are more buses on roads. Metro should immediately increase its frequency, add more coaches and lower fares during off-peak hours,” the Epca said.

Announcing these measures, the Epca said the Capital was facing a “crisis situation”, which was likely to persist for the next few days.

“We are not expecting a dramatic change in the next two-three days. Shallow fog is preventing the dissipation of pollutants at the ground level,” Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) member secretary A Sudhakhar said.

Smoke-laden air from neighbouring Punjab and Haryana and moisture-heavy winds from the eastern region had combined with local pollutants to envelope the city in a toxic haze, he said.

They expected paddy stubble burning to come down by November 10 but it was unlikely before November 15, the CPCB member said.

Farmers burn paddy residue in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana to clear their fields for the wheat crop to be sown in coming weeks.

Though the national green tribunal has banned the burning and governments have imposed fines, farmers say they have no alternative but to set fire to the waste.

Epca chairman Bhure Lal and member Sunita Narain also said brick kilns, hot-mix plants and stone crushers would remain shut across the region till further notice.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 17:06 IST