Delhi's air quality remained very poor on Saturday as inspections by Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority found rampant illegal activities specially garbage burning taking place at various pollution hotspots across the city.
Supreme Court-appointed EPCA said it will call a meeting specifically for industries in Delhi to discuss the progress from shifting from coal to natural gas, as it noted that the "ease of breathing" cannot be compromised for the "ease of business".
The action comes as Delhi's air quality remained very poor at an air quality index of 354 and authorities warned of increase in pollution level from next week when dense fog is expected to engulf the national capital.
Lal visited Mundka where he saw several garbage burning instances.
"The garbage mainly consisted of rubber and plastic waste which is carcinogenic. I held meetings with industrial associations and made our stand clear that we would not tolerate garbage burning at any cost," he told PTI.
He said he got it in writing from industries that they would stop burning garbage in open and would sprinkle water to mitigate pollution effects.
"I told them that a penalty of Rs 50,000 would be imposed for burning garbage in the open and if they are caught for a second time then their industrial unit would be shut," he added.
He also met with villagers who complained that pollution has led to breathing issues and has even caused cancer among many of them.
Accompanied by MCD and DDA officials, he also visited Nangoi and Tikri.
Lal would be conducting an inspection of Bawana and Narela on Monday and would be visiting Anand Vihar on Tuesday.
The EPCA Friday said they are seriously considering banning industrial, construction and demolition activities at major pollution hotspots in Delhi-NCR when air quality levels reach 'severe' category.
Noting that ease of breathing cannot be compromised for ease of business, EPCA member Sunita Narain told various coal industries and oil and gas companies that there is a need to find better fuel which is cleaner and there is a price for it but it has to be paid.
"We cannot compromise ease of breathing for ease of business. We cannot survive this. Either we have to find better fuel we either need to search for a way to find ways of subsidising cleaner fuel," Narain said.
"We need to understand how they moving, what is their economics, who is not moving (to natural gas)," an EPCA member said.
The EPCA also underlined that the biggest challenge in crackdown on illegal industries causing pollution is that upon shutdown, they shift to non-conforming areas and continue polluting activities in other parts of the city.
"As we crack down on industries and industrial areas, they all move to the non-conforming areas or illegal areas where nobody can control them and under the law, the DPCC cannot even enter the area.
"If we crack down on Delhi industries, they move over to neighbouring areas. We have to find a comprehensive solution to it and make sure illegal industry is not allowed anywhere. It is also one of the biggest challenges," an EPCA member said.
The representatives of the industries blamed vehicles for causing greater pollution to which chest specialist Arvind Kumar, who is also an EPCA member, lashed out, saying if the consequences of pollution were known, this "whole discussion will pale into insignificance".
"The PM2.5 can hamper brain development by 10-20 per cent and we are going to make our next generation retarded because of our pleasures that is adding to air pollution," he rued.
"Evidence is now emerging that heart attacks, brain attacks are linked to air pollution. The WHO has called it second tobacco epidemic and if we don't control this menace, it would threaten our very existence," he said.
Delhi has been battling alarming levels of pollution for nearly two months with the air quality hovering between "very poor" and "severe", and slipping into "poor" on better days.
The Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) said the overall air quality of Delhi continues to remain in the 'very poor' range.
"The meteorological conditions have slightly improved causing dispersion of pollutants but the air quality might deteriorate from Sunday with dense fog engulfing the capital which may degrade the air quality," the SAFAR said.
The Central Pollution Control Board-led task force has identified 15 pollution hotspots in Delhi. They are -- Anand Vihar, Bawana, CRRI Mathura Road, DTU, Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, Dwarka-Sector 8, Jahangirpuri, Mundaka, NSIT Dwarka, Narela, Okhla Phase-2, R K Puram, Rohini, Shadipur, Wazirpur.
In NCR areas outside Delhi, six hotspots have been identified. They are -- Sector-16A in Faridabad, Vikas Sadan in Gurgaon, Vasundhara in Ghaziabad, Knowledge Park-III in Greater Noida, Sector-125 in Noida and RIICO Industrial Area-III in Bhiwadi.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)