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Monday, December 06, 2021

Delhi air pollution: NCR schools, colleges shut, construction at a halt till November 21

All construction will be halted till then, except work related to the Railways, the Metro, the airport, bus terminals and defence-related projects. Six of the thermal plants within a 300-km radius of Delhi will also be shut.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: November 17, 2021 9:12:22 am
Delhi schools, NCR schools, Delhi-NCR schools shut, Delhi air pollution, Delhi pollution, Delhi lockdown, Delhi Air Quality Management, schools and colleges shut in Delhi NCR, work from home, Delhi news, indian express newsThe directions came late Tuesday night, after an emergency meeting was held on the directions of the Supreme Court. (File)

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas Tuesday directed closing of all education institutions, including schools and colleges, till further notice, a halt on all construction activities till November 21 as well as work from home for 50 per cent staff in government offices till then, to curb the deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR.

Trucks, other than those carrying essential supplies, will not be allowed entry into Delhi till November 21 and this restriction may be extended depending on the conditions.

The CAQM also directed its five member states — Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan — to “encourage’’ work from home for 50 per cent staff in all private establishments that fall in the NCR till November 21.

All construction will be halted till then, except work related to the Railways, the Metro, the airport, bus terminals and defence-related projects. Six of the thermal plants within a 300-km radius of Delhi will also be shut.

The directions came late Tuesday night, after an emergency meeting was held on the directions of the Supreme Court. The meeting was attended by members of the Commission, chief secretaries, additional chief secretaries and principal secretaries of the departments concerned, such as transport and urban development.

The CAQM issued these directions after advice from the India Meteorological Department, which has forecast that the air quality in Delhi-NCR is likely to remain poor, and even slip into severe category, over the next few days, improving after November 21. The Capital’s air quality slipped back into the ‘severe’ category (AQI level 403) Tuesday.

The Commission directed that of the 11 thermal power plants operating within 300-km radius of Delhi, only five — NTPC Jhajjar, Mahatma Gandhi TPS Jhajjar, Panipat TPS HPGCL, Nabha Power Ltd Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo Mansa — will be allowed to operate. The rest are to remain shut till November 30. The Ministry of Power has said that load requirements arising out of the closure will be supplied from power plants beyond the 300-km radius.

Anti-smog guns, water sprinkling and dust suppressants are to be deployed thrice a day in hotspots, the CAQM noted, and heavy penalties are to be imposed on parties stacking construction material and waste on roads. The CAQM has also banned the use of diesel generator sets except in emergencies.

At the meeting, sources said the possibility of a weekend lockdown was also discussed but no such decision was announced at night.

“On behalf of the people of Delhi, we proposed that work from home be implemented, and all construction work and industries in the Delhi-NCR region be shut for the meantime. The other states presented their proposals too, we are awaiting the minutes of the meeting. We will proceed after receiving the Commission’s decision. We hope that this meeting will result in a joint action plan for reducing pollution levels,” Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said after the meeting.

Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the Delhi government was in the process of hiring 1,000 private buses for a period of one month to “curb vehicular pollution”. The Delhi government has also sent a proposal to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to allow standing passengers in buses and the Delhi Metro. While buses and metro are allowed to function at 100% capacity, standing passengers are not allowed as per DDMA rules.

The CAQM is an executive body set up to oversee measures to curb air pollution in the NCR, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. It was set up by the Union Environment Ministry.

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