A Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-led anti-pollution task force on Wednesday recommended extending the ban on night-time construction in Delhi-NCR till November 2 and asked Punjab and Haryana to take immediate stringent action to curb stubble burning.
At a meeting in New Delhi, the ‘Task Force on Graded Response Action Plan’ also recommended that coal-based industries, barring power plants, in satellite towns of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Sonepat and Bahadurgarh be also shut till November 2.
In Delhi, industries which have not shifted to piped natural gas, should remain closed during the period, read the minutes of the meeting.
The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had banned construction and operation of hot mix plants and stone crushers from 6pm to 6am from October 26 and 30.
The ban had come on the recommendation of the task force.
CPCB Member-Secretary Prashant Gargava said air quality is likely to remain in the “severe” category until Thursday.
“A high number of stubble burning cases have been reported from Punjab and Haryana which is delineated to have contributed around 25 per cent to Delhi’s PM2.5 concentration on Wednesday,” he said.
IMD scientist VK Soni said that there were clouds over Delhi due to a cyclone in the Arabian Sea.
Northwesterly winds that bring smoke from stubble burning from Haryana and Punjab and low surface wind speed led to a rise in pollution levels, Soni said.
“The wind speed will be slightly higher on Thursday and it is expected that on November 1, pollution levels may come down to very poor category,” Soni said.
At a second meeting, the Central Pollution Control Board reviewed ground-level action and shared its feedback with implementing agencies.
“We have asked these agencies to resolve all pending pollution-related complaints within 24 hours,” Gargava said.
Gargava said preemptive measures and meteorological conditions provided a cushion and that’s why Delhi’s air quality did not slip into the “emergency” category like previous years. “But action on the part of implementing agencies has not been satisfactory,” Gargava said.
Forty-six teams of the apex anti-pollution body have been conducting inspections in Delhi-NCR.
Authorities in Delhi-NCR reported 1,452 cases that led to air pollution from October 7 to 27, according to data from CPCB.
Of the total 1,452 violations, 446 related to pollution due to construction and demolition and 355 dumping of waste.
Prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board and first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017, the Graded Response Action Plan lists measures to curb air pollution according to the severity of the situation.