The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority on Wednesday urged residents in the National Capital Region to use public transport instead of private vehicles till November 10 to help reduce the level of air pollution.
This came a day after the air quality in the region fell to the “severe category”, prompting the environmental body to say it may prohibit private vehicles from plying in region from November 1 if the air quality worsens. But the Graded Response Action Plan, which was put in place in 2017 on the directions of the Supreme Court, does not include a provision to ban all private vehicles in the capital.
The EPCA said while there was a slight reduction in the levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 – pollutants with diametres of 10 micrometres and 2.5 micrometres – across the region, air quality was still “very poor”.
The body said it was important to curb local sources of pollution to manage the crisis. “Ensure that we do not burn garbage and we report all instances of garbage burning and other pollution carefully and responsibly on the Central Pollution Control Board [CPCB] Facebook/Twitter accounts,” it added.
Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government on Wednesday said it was “fully prepared” to deal with the crisis. Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the government has not received a notice from the Environment Pollution Control Authority about regulation of private vehicles, PTI reported.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee banned construction activities in the city between November 1 and November 10. The authority issued the order for industries using coal and biomass as fuel. The National Green Tribunal asked the Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh governments to take immediate steps to prevent crop residue burning, which is contributing to the rise in pollution levels.
In November 2017, a toxic smog enveloped the National Capital Region, leaving governments scrambling to implement measures in the eleventh hour to bring down pollution. Crop burning in states around the National Capital Region was identified as one of the factors contributing to the increase in pollution.
The following month, the National Green Tribunal criticised the Punjab government for not taking effective steps to curb stubble burning in the state. Pollution had risen to dangerous levels in 2016 as well.