The Central Pollution Control Board on Sunday asked officials in New Delhi and the National Capital Region to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards construction activities and waste burning, in the light of the national Capital’s continuing “severe” air quality, PTI reported. The pollution board’s task force issued the orders at an emergency meeting.

The enforcement of measures taken to combat pollution “needs to be stepped up particularly in hotspot areas” that are vulnerable to heavy levels of pollution, the board said. “The implementing agencies in Delhi and four neighbouring towns of Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurugram to be on high alert, carry out night patrolling and take actions with zero tolerance to waste burning and construction activities,” the task force said.

It added that authorities must strictly follow the orders of the Supreme Court on bursting firecrackers. On October 23, the Supreme Court imposed restrictions on the use and sale of firecrackers, allowing the sale of only “green” crackers that are low on emissions and noise.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had last week banned all construction work, as well as industrial activity in heavily polluted areas in New Delhi and the National Capital Region till December 26.

Delhi’s air quality index remained in the “severe” category on Monday, with the Air Quality Index at 415 at 11 am. An Air Quality Index between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

Meanwhile, the minimum temperature in New Delhi was recorded at 3.8 degrees Celsius on Monday, three degrees below normal, India Meteorological Department data showed. The humidity level at 8.30 am was 100%. The maximum temperature on Sunday was 22.9 degrees Celsius, two degrees above normal.

The Met department’s data showed that a cold wave will continue in the Capital till at least January 1.