Under intense presure in the wake of health alarm due to grave pollution situation, the Delhi government on Monday began phasing out diesel vehicles over 15 years old numbering around two lakh, while a ban was imposed on the bursting firecrackers. The latest directives, issued after a meeting chaired by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, came on a day the three-day-long shutdown of schools began, construction and demolition came to a halt and a power plant closed owing to a toxic smog blanketing the city since Diwali. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and top officials of key agencies attended the deliberations.
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A meeting of Environment Ministers of NCR states chaired by Union Environment Minister Anil Dave saw Haryana and Punjab seeking to counter the AAP dispensation’s repeated allegation that the week-long smog episode in Delhi was mainly due to farm fires in the neighbouring states.
However, NASA images showed farm fires were raging in the entire region, billowing out smoke laden with pollutants. Dave also sought to put the onus on Delhi as he underlined that 80 per cent of the emission sources were within the city and only the rest could be attributed to stubble burning.
“Directions have been issued to all Registering Authorities/MLOs to start deregistration of diesel vehicles which are more than 15 years old in a phased manner. This will bring about a reduction of 2 lakhs diesel vehicles on the roads in Delhi,” Raj Niwas said in a statement.
In a first, the city government also issued a health advisory, asking people to avoid highly polluted areas and those with lung diseases to not venture outdoor for any activities. A senior official at the LG office said decisions taken on Monday will be reviewed in the next meeting on November 15. Apart from that, ban on construction and demolition
activities will continue till November 14 and overloaded trucks and vehicles not destined for the city will not be allowed in the national capital.
In July, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the Delhi government to de-register diesel vehicles older than 10 years, which it later said, should begin with the deregistration of vechiles which are over 15 years old in the first phase. IIT-Kanpur, in a comprehensive report, had identified vehicular pollution as the second largest and most consistently contributing source to respirable pollutants PM 10 and PM 2.5 in winters.