The Supreme Court on Monday partially lifted its ban on construction activities in Delhi-NCR, allowing work from 6 am to 6 pm, even as the air quality in the national capital remained in the “very poor” category for the sixth consecutive day.
Taking into account the report of the Central Pollution Control Board, the Supreme Court permitted construction activities during the day but the ban would be enforced during the night.
The apex court also directed Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh to submit a report on the stubble burning in each state by December 11.
On the other hand, the Centre told the apex court they have set up a high-level committee, in association with IIT, to examine the use of technology like smog towers to combat pollution.
Earlier in November, the apex court imposed a ban on all kinds of construction work in view of the rising pollution levels in the national capital. The apex court had said dust emanating from construction sites was one of the major internal contributors to air pollution in the capital. The court also said that a fine of Rs 1 lakh would be imposed on those violating the order.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had imposed a partial ban on construction activities during October 26-30 between 6 pm and 6 am as a measure to control deteriorating air quality, which had reached emergency levels on November 3.
Since October 30, the EPCA, advised by a task force led by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), has been extending the ban. From November 1 to 5, a complete ban was ordered by EPCA until the Supreme Court, on November 4, directed that all construction activities in Delhi-NCR be stopped until further orders.
Supreme Court partially relaxes ban on constructions in Delhi. Allows Central Pollution Control Board proposal to permit day time constructions. Ban to remain on constructions during night @IndianExpress
— Ananthakrishnan G (@axidentaljourno) December 9, 2019
This is the longest that a construction ban, a pollution control measure under the Graded Response Action Plan, has been enforced in winter months for the past few years. Last year the ban was imposed from November 1-12. In 2017, it was for an eight-day period from November 8.
On November 30, the apex court had made an exception on its ban on construction activity for the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) at Pragati Maidan.
Delhi-NCR witnessed one of the worst episodes of smog this year, with AQI hovering between 490 and 500. Schools were directed to remain shut in view of the rising pollution, and the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme was also brought into force.