Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday banned construction and industrial activities in Delhi-NCR till November 14. Further, it said that no trucks from outside or within Delhi would be permitted to transport any construction material.
The NGT directed authorities to implement EPCA's directions to improve ambient air quality. It also directed civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure that there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR.
The green tribunal pulled up the Delhi government, municipal corporations and neighbouring states over pollution levels in the capital and asked them to see the pitiable condition of people in hospitals, reported news agency ANI.
Observing that it was "shameful for all the parties in this matter on what they're passing on to the next generation", NGT said that "even construction work taking place openly isn't being stopped, and when such a situation has ensued now action is being promised".
Further, according to the news agency, NGT observed that Articles 21 and 48 of the Constitution mandate that it is the responsibility of governments to make sure that citizens get a clean and conducive environment. The tribunal added that people's Right to life was being snatched from them since they were not getting a clean environment.
The Delhi High Court also directed authorities to consider the possibility of employing cloud seeding as a measure to control pollution.
Alarmed over the life-threatening, high-level pollution in Delhi-NCR, the National
Human Rights Commission said that it has issued notices to the Centre and the governments of Punjab and Haryana on their action plan to tackle the crisis.
Delhi's air quality status has been deemed "severe" on Thursday by the Safar (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) website. In fact, tomorrow's advisory for the capital is also "severe" and, after three days, Safar estimates the air quality in the city will be "very poor".
Compare this to Mumbai (moderate), Pune (moderate), and Ahmedabad (moderate). Today's forecast shows PM10 at 820 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM2.5 at 517 microgrammes per cubic metre -- these are ultrafine particulates that have the ability to enter the respiratory system and subsequently the bloodstream of humans and animals, causing harm.
(Click here to check out Safar's readings and advisory for yourself
As reported earlier, the worsening air quality in the National
Capital Region (NCR) has spawned panic-stricken reactions, with the Delhi government reaching out to neighbouring states and considering restrictions on plying of vehicles in the city and shutting down of schools.
If you're also living in the 'gas chamber', here are the top 10 developments you need to know:
1) Construction, industrial activities banned: The NGT issued a slew of directions to deal with the situation, including banning construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks, while lambasting the Delhi government and civic bodies over the worsening air quality in Delhi and neighbouring states.
"No construction activity will be carried out on structures until further orders... all industrial activities in Delhi-NCR which are causing emissions will also not be allowed to carry on their functioning" till November 14, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
An irked green panel also imposed a ban on the entry of diesel trucks more than ten years old and said that no vehicle from outside or within Delhi will be permitted to transport any construction material.
2) NGT directs water sprinkling to tackle PM 10 particles: The NGT also directed the authorities and the civic bodies to sprinkle water where PM 10 is found to be in excess of 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
It further directed the authorities to implement EPCA's directions to improve ambient air quality while asking the civic bodies to constitute teams to ensure there is no burning of waste in Delhi-NCR.
3) Delhi HC orders authorities to hold emergency meeting: The Delhi High Court also directed that an emergency meeting be called by the secretary of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change with the chief secretaries of NCR states and pollution control agencies within three days.
4) All schools shut:
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia ordered all Delhi schools, government and private, to remain shut till Sunday. In his tweet, he said this order was applicable to all classes in schools.
5) Odd-even makes a comeback:
The Odd-Even car rationing scheme will be enforced in Delhi for a five-day period from November 13, city Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said on Thursday.
Under the scheme, cars with odd-numbered registration would ply on odd dates and those with even-numbered registration would do so on even dates. (Read more here
"The moment the odd-even (restrictions on movement of vehicles based on their number plates) scheme is needed, we will announce it. DTC has been intimated to increase the number of buses. We are in discussions with DMRC to improve last-mile connectivity to metro stations. This is done to curtail the use of private vehicles," said Varsha Joshi, secretary, power and transport, in the Delhi government.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday observed that the Odd-Even scheme last year had unclogged the city and asked the Delhi government to consider implementing the "Odd-Even vehicle movement scheme" as a short-term measure.
6) Firms give pollution masks, offer flexi hours to employees:
Paytm founder and Chief Executive Officer Vijay Shekhar Sharma is leaving for a coastal city in south India to escape the smog and pollution choking the National
Capital Region (NCR). The employees of his company in Noida might not be able to leave like him, but Paytm is distributing pollution masks among them and is also offering flexible working hours so that they can avoid the peak pollution in the morning and evening. Information technology company HCL, which has an employee strength of 35,000 in the NCR, is also distributing masks. India’s biggest online travel agency MakeMyTrip said it was working on ways to help employees procure the right air masks at discounted prices on the office premises.
(Read our detailed report on how private companies are dealing with the issue)
Multinational companies such as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola and Indian fast-moving consumer goods major Dabur are not considering giving any leaves to their employees yet. Coke has air-purifying systems at its corporate office in Gurugram; others said the air quality on their premises was considerably better than outside.
7) Kejriwal and Amarinder try to sort it out: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday indulged in a Twitter conversation over the rising levels of smog in the capital. While Kejriwal insisted on an urgent meeting with his Punjab and Haryana counterparts, Amarinder Singh said that the issue could only be solved by the central government.
"My office continuously trying to take time from CMs of Punjab n Haryana for me to meet the two CMs. Its an emergency(sic)," Kejriwal tweeted hours after he sent a letter to Captain Amarinder Singh and Manohar Lal Khattar.
The Punjab Chief Minister, who had earlier refused to penalise farmers for stubble burning, said that he shared Kejriwal's concern but the state was helpless. "Share your concern over stubble burning
and pollution @ArvindKejriwal, Centre alone can solve the problem given its national
implications(sic)," he tweeted.
"Situation is serious but Punjab helpless as the problem is widespread & state has no money to compensate farmers for stubble management(sic)," he further wrote. The Captain again demanded the Centre's intervention in the matter.
8) Metro to offer 186 extra train trips:
DMRC has announced 186 extra rail trips on the six metro lines it operates in Delhi. It will run 3,317 train trips from Thursday instead of 3,131. These extra trips would be done by inducting trains from the operational maintenance reserve kept in the Metro train depots by optimising the required maintenance schedule, said DMRC. (Read more here
9) AIIMS director warns of mass casualties:
AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria feared that the situation, if it continues, could cause 30,000 deaths in the NCR due to respiratory-related issues in the winter season. "The current smog situation in the national
capital is the same to last year's post Diwali situation," Guleira said, citing the Great Smog of London in 1952 which is estimated to have killed nearly 4,000 people within a week. (Read more here
Calling the current dense smog a "silent killer", Gulleria said while there was a surge in sale of anti-pollution masks and air purifiers, they were not very useful. "It's better to stay indoors and not go out. There is an absolute need to avoid the hotspots of air pollution.
However, we need a long term solution, all these are short term," Guleria told IANS.
He said there was a 20 per cent surge in respiratory disease patients at the AIIMS. The most affected were children and the aged.
Other doctors asked people to avoid jogging as high levels of air pollution
can cause chronic lung and heart diseases.
The smog can cause allergies or aggravate already existing allergies and decrease lung immunity, according to Fortis Healthcare. The high levels of air pollution
might also lead to premature birth, it warned.
10) Where is all this pollution coming from:
The source apportionment study by IIT Kanpur in 2015 revealed that 38% of Delhi’s particulate air pollution
originated from road dust, 20% from vehicles, 12% from domestic sources such as cooking, and 15% from industries. An older source apportionment study by NEERI Nagpur for the Central Pollution Control Board
revealed that 52% of Delhi’s air pollution
is from road dust, 22% from industries, 7% from vehicles and 18% from biomass burning.