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Schools reopen after pollution break, construction ban still on

The Supreme Court order issued last week had re-imposed the ban on construction activities in the NCR until further orders.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: November 30, 2021 1:12:37 am
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai. (Screengrab from video on Twitter/GopalRai)

The ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essentials into Delhi, except electric trucks and those that run on CNG, will continue till December 7, while the ban on construction and demolition will continue till further orders, according to Environment Minister Gopal Rai.

The Supreme Court order issued last week had re-imposed the ban on construction activities in the NCR until further orders. The order said non-polluting activities related to construction, like plumbing work, interior decoration, electrical work and carpentry, are allowed to continue.

Rai was speaking after a meeting held with officials of various departments on Monday. Schools, which had remained shut briefly considering the rise in air pollution levels, re-opened, and employees of government offices who had been working from home, returned to working from offices on Monday.

After three consecutive days of AQI in the ‘severe’ category, the air quality was in the ‘very poor’ category on Monday, with an AQI of 389, according to the Central Pollution Control Board bulletin. The SAFAR forecast attributes the marginal improvement to local winds that are possibly increasing the dispersion of pollutants on Monday and Tuesday. Wind speed is likely to fall again on December 1, and AQI could deteriorate slightly, the forecast indicates.

Special bus services are being arranged in 14 colonies where Delhi government employees live for transport to the Delhi Secretariat and back, Rai said. The areas covered include Gulabi Bagh, Mayur Vihar Phase-2, Shalimar Bagh, Timarpur, Hari Nagar, Rohini Sector 11, Model Town Phase-1, Vikaspuri, Paschim Vihar, and Vasant Kunj.

The government’s ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign, meant to urge people to turn off engines at signals, will continue till December 18.

Meanwhile, 8,480 sites were inspected for ‘open burning’ and around 1,000 violations were detected, Rai said. Penalties worth a total of Rs 28 lakh has been imposed for open burning, he said.

Nearly 14,000 challans were issued to vehicles running without pollution under control certificates in October and November, Rai added.

SC mulls independent task force on pollution

The Supreme Court Monday asked states in the NCR and Punjab to appraise it about the implementation of various directions given by it and the Commission for Air Quality Management for curbing air pollution and said that it might set up an independent task force to ensure the implementation of the directions.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said that while the intentions of the central authorities in issuing various directions to the states may be good, their implementation has been “zero”.

“We will ask states what they have done to implement… If they don’t (implement), we will create an independent task force ourselves”, the CJI said as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta took the court through the directions issued by the Commission from time to time.

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