Vehicles ply on Rajpath shrouded in smog, in New Delhi
Vehicles ply on Rajpath shrouded in smog, in New Delhi (representational image) | PTI
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New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that stringent measures like banning the entry of trucks, except few exceptions, complete closure of all public and private educational institutions, and closure of five thermal power plants in the 300 km radius of the national capital are still in force to deal with the rising air pollution level.

The Commission for Air Quality Management in the NCR and Adjoining Areas, in a report, filed before a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, said that the construction and demolition activities were stopped in Delhi-NCR till November 21 and now, they have been allowed again because of an improved scenario.

The decision to close down industries, which are connected to PNG, but running on other fuel was in force, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench which also comprised justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant.

The top court asked the Centre and the NCR states to continue with their measures to curb air pollution and called for advance preventive steps with the help of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) which has “sophisticated mechanisms and tools” to deal with the situation before it becomes severe.

Now the matter has been fixed for further hearing on Monday.

Referring to the steps taken, the law officer said, The measure such as closing down of industries using unapproved fuels is in force and intensive and continuous drives are being conducted to monitor compliance of air pollution control norms by industrial units.

Only five identified thermal power plants, of the 11 power plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi shall remain inoperative, till at least November 30, he said.

Deployment of anti-smog guns, water sprinklers, fire tenders, and other dust suppressants measures in vulnerable hot spots are being augmented, he said referring to the report.

Intensive and continuous drives to monitor compliance of air pollution control norms in the project sites, roads are being held.

The Commission for Air Quality Management, which held the meeting at the direction of the apex court on Tuesday with the Centre, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, has ordered enforcement of a strict ban on the use of DG sets except for emergency services, as per provisions and orders under the GRAP issued from time to time .

Public and private schools, Colleges and Educational Institutions in NCR to remain closed until further orders allowing only online mode of education, the report said.

All other directions issued by the Commission are still in force, he said, adding that buses have been used to ferry central govt employees from various destinations in the national capital to the CGO complex.

Over 570 construction sites were banned in the last five days and actions against polluting vehicles have been taken, Mehta said, adding that the dust management directions are in operation and more mechanized road sweeping machines have been deployed.

Actions have been taken against old polluting vehicles and many of them impounded by the authorities, he said.

Earlier, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change had filed the affidavit before the bench which was hearing a PIL on air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region.

The affidavit had referred to the measures on the issue of dealing with industrial pollution and said, “NCR states and the GNCTD shall ensure that all industries having gas connectivity shall be run only on gas as fuel failing which industries concerned shall be closed.

The Commission had already directed not to permit any industry to use unapproved fuels and all industries in NCR, which are still using unapproved fuels, shall be closed by respective governments with immediate effect, it said.

All public and private schools, colleges, and educational institutions in NCR shall remain closed until further orders allowing only online mode of education, it had said, adding that these directions will be closely monitored by the chief secretaries.

Also read: 57% of Delhi-NCR residents don’t support odd-even to tackle pollution, survey finds


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