All schools and colleges in Delhi and its neighbouring cities should remain closed till further orders in view of the severe air pollution, the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas said on Tuesday.
Delhi had announced closure of all schools for a week on November 13. Haryana had closed schools till November 17.
The commission released a set of detailed guidelines on Tuesday to handle the pollution crisis. Earlier in the day, the commission set by the central government held a meeting with officials from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to review the steps taken to address the pollution crisis.
At the meeting, Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the government has proposed to implement a work-from-home policy, ban all construction work and shut down industries in the National Capital Region to tackle air pollution.
Delhi and its neighbouring areas have been shrouded in toxic smog since Diwali. Delhi’s pollution gets worse in October and November because of farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and emission of fumes by the local traffic in the city. Firecrackers ignited for Diwali add to the problem.
But on Monday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that burning of farm waste accounted for just 10% of the emissions on an average through the year.
After the government’s submission, a bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that the “hue and cry” about stubble burning was without any factual basis.
The Supreme Court will continue to hear the case on Wednesday.
Here are the guidelines issued by the air quality commission
- All industries in NCR having gas connectivity shall be run only on gas as a fuel, failing which the industries concerned shall be closed.
- All industries in NCR still using unapproved fuels shall be closed by respective governments with immediate effect.
- All Industries where gas connectivity is available shall immediately be shifted to gas and state governments will furnish industry-wise date of shifting.
- States and Delhi government shall further set up effective enforcement mechanism including intensive and continuous drives by deputing adequate number of teams consisting of senior officers.
Thermal power plants
- Of the 11 thermal power plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi, only five shall be allowed to schedule their operations and the rest shall remain inoperative at least till November 30.
- Secretary, Ministry of Power, is informed that load requirements, if any, arising out of such closures shall be duly facilitated through power supply from other power plants located beyond 300 km radius of Delhi.
NCR States and Delhi shall stop:
a) Entry of trucks in Delhi except those carrying essential commodities, till November 21 subject to further review for extension of this date.
b) Plying of diesel and petrol vehicles of more than 10 and 15 years, respectively, in NCR is a serious matter and the authorities shall ensure that no vehicles of more than 10 years and 15 years using diesel and petrol, respectively, are found plying on road.
c) Stop plying of visibly polluting vehicles and vehicles without PUC [Pollution under Control certificates] in NCR. Checks for PUC may be primarily carried out at the petrol pumps so as to obviate congestion on free roads.
d) Deploy traffic taskforce teams to closely monitor all busy intersections, market areas, unauthorised parking lots etc. and take every possible step towards ensuring smooth flow of traffic and avoiding congestion.
e) Delhi should expeditiously procure and put on road adequate number of CNG buses at the earliest.
4. Dust Control Measures
NCR States and Delhi shall:
a) Stop construction and demolition activities in NCR till November 21 except for railway services and metro operations.
b) Deploy anti-smog guns, water sprinklers (including supplementing such efforts through large scale deployment of fire tenders etc.).
c) Augment availability of road sweeping machines and water sprinklers in NCR through emergent procurement measures.
d) Set up effective enforcement mechanism including intensive drives by deputing adequate number of teams consisting of senior officers to monitor compliance of air pollution emission control norms by the C&D (construction and development) projects and heavy penal action and/ or closure directions be issued with immediate effect.
e) Impose heavy penalty on persons/ organisations responsible for stacking construction materials or C&D waste on roads and right of ways in NCR.
Work from home and online classes
- NCR state governments shall allow work from home for at least 50% of their staff in offices in NCR, till November 21, subject to further review.
- NCR state governments shall encourage at least 50% of staff working in private establishments in NCR are also allowed to work from home till November 21.
- All public and private schools, colleges and educational institutions in NCR shall remain closed until further orders allowing only online mode of education.