Air Pollution in Delhi-NCR: All schools shut, WFH for 50 percent staff in NCR- Check full list of CAQM guidelines

Guidelines to curb air pollution: All schools, colleges and educational institutions in the National Capital Region to remain closed until further orders. Only online mode of education will be allowed. 

Created On: Nov 15, 2021 14:13 ISTModified On: Nov 17, 2021 14:09 IST
Delhi Air Pollution, Source: ANI
Delhi Air Pollution, Source: ANI

Air Pollution in Delhi-NCR: The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has issued a list of mandatory guidelines to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR. The announcement comes after a meeting of commission for air quality management for Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas and all Chief Secretaries of NCR states and Central ministries senior officials.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai also called a high-level meeting in the National Capital today to ensure implementation of CAQM's guidelines.

The matter was also heard by the Supreme Court today. The next hearing will now be on November 24, 2021. The CJI observed during the hearing, "Bureaucracy has gone into inertia and they don't want to do anything. Like using sprinklers or water buckets we have to say, this is the attitude of the executive."

Commission for Air Quality Management: List of Guidelines

The Commission for Air Quality Management has directed the Chief Secretaries of Delhi and NCR states to monitor the implementation of its directions on a regular basis and file a compliance report before the commission on November 22nd.

The CAQM is an agency under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, for people residing in Delhi-NCR regions to tackle with the rising air pollution situation. The commission's guidelines do not include anything related to complete lockdown in Delhi,as suggested by the Supreme Court.

Check full list of CAQM guidelines here:

•All schools, colleges and educational institutions in the National Capital Region to remain closed until further orders. Only online mode of education will be allowed. 

•All construction and demolition activities to be stopped in Delhi-NCR till November 21. Only projects of national importance will be exempted from the ban subject to strict compliance of the C&D Waste Management Rules and dust control norms.

•The commission has also directed use of smog towers, sprinklers, and dust suppressants in vulnerable hotspots at least three times a day.

•All trucks carrying non-essential goods have beens banned from entering Delhi till November 21st. 
Only 5 out of total 11 thermal power plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi will remain operational till November 30. 

•Work from home (WFH) for at least 50 per cent of the staff in the state government offices in NCR till November 21st. The states have also been asked to encourage the private establishment to implement the same. 

•All industries in NCR using unapproved fuels have been directed to shut down with immediate effect and industries having gas connectivity to immediately shifted to gas. 

•The NCR states have also been asked to impose a strict ban on use of Diesel Generator sets except for emergency services.

•The NCR authorities have also been ordered to ensure that no diesel and petrol vehicles older than 10-15 years are plying on the road.

•The Delhi government has been directed to speedily procure and deploy adequate number of CNG buses at the earliest.

Centre unwilling to ask employees to WFH, advises carpooling instead

The centre expressed unwillingness before the Supreme Court to ask its employees to work from home and instead it has advised its employees in Delhi to resort to carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles used by them for commuting.

The centre informed the top court through an affidavit, that number of vehicles used by Central government is a minuscule fraction of the total vehicles in the national capital and stopping their plying would not make much impact towards improving the air quality of Delhi.

 Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that WFH in a state like Delhi will have an impact in Delhi but if we (Central employees) go WFH, it'll have pan-India ramifications. Can the minimum impact it has on pollution outweigh the impact it will have on Pan India functioning; thus we've suggested car-pooling.

The Supreme Court has suggests the Central government officers living in government colonies to travel in public transport.

Response by NCR states

Delhi

Upon being asked by SC over steps taken to curb air pollution, Delhi government stated that construction sites are being vigorously looked at with day and night patrolling and anti smog guns have been installed and anti-dust campaign is being organised as well.

Delhi government also informed the court that it will give any amount to buy sweeping machines. The Delhi government also informed the top court that it can increase metro and bus frequencies and requested the Supreme Court to order work from home and ban on vehicles in adjoining states as well. 

Haryana

Haryana government also informed SC that it has implemented whatever was suggested by the Commission and that whatever is ordered will be followed. The state also informed that Chief Secretary and District Magistrates are taking stock of the situation so that no stubble burning takes place in the next two weeks.

Punjab

Punjab state government's counsel informed the Supreme Court that the state doesn't fall under Delhi-NCR region but has taken measures to stop stubble burning.

Background

Delhi Government informed the Supreme Court on November 15, 2021 that it is ready to impose a lockdown if the centre can consider having it in the entire NCR region. 

A special Supreme Court bench led by the Chief Justice of India had on November 13th expressed deep concerns at the Delhi pollution situation, and had called for emergency steps. The Bench had also suggested the imposition of a lockdown to prevent the situation from going out of control.

The Delhi Government, agreeing to Supreme Court's suggestion, said in the affidavit :

"GNCTD is ready to take steps like complete lockdown to control the local emissions. However, such a step would be meaningful if it is implemented across the NCR areas in neighboring states. Given Delhi's compact size, a lockdown would have a limited impact on the air quality regime. This issue would need to be addressed at the level of airshed involving NCR areas. In view of the above, we are ready to consider this step if the same is mandated for the entire NCR areas by the Government of India or by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas"

Major cause of air pollution in Delhi is dust, heavy vehicular traffic - SC

•Supreme Court noted that the Delhi government's affidavit is all about bashing farmers and how the entire cause is stubble burning. The court observed that the major cause of air pollution in Delhi is dust, heavy vehicular traffic and industries. The court observed that if timely steps are taken by the government, the pollution can be kept at manageable levels. 

•The court directed the centre to call for an emergency meeting to discuss which industries can be stopped, which vehicles can be prevented from plying and which power plants can be stopped and how they can provide alternative power by then. 

•The court had also asked the centre and states of the NCR region to consider work from home for the employees in the meantime  and the matter was adjourned for hearing on November 17th. 

Stubble burning is not the major cause of pollution: Centre to SC

The centre had also earlier informed the Supreme Court that stubble burning is not the major cause of pollution at present in Delhi and northern states, as it contributes to only 10 percent of the pollution. 

Centre suggested following three steps to the apex court to curb pollution in Delhi-

1. Introduction of odd-even vehicle scheme

2. Ban on trucks' entry in Delhi

3. Lockdown severest action to be taken 

 

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