Emergency Measures Pulled Back As Air Quality Improves In Delhi
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution-Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) on Thursday withdrew a ban on construction activities, entry of trucks and enhanced parking fees from across the Delhi-national capital region as air quality remained out of the “emergency” category for the second straight day. The ban was imposed in the national capital on November 8 as air pollution levels reached alarming levels in the previous week. The measures, part of the Graded Response Action Plan, came into effect after Delhi air entered the emergency category, accompanied by thick smog.
EPCA Chairperson Bhure Lal wrote to chief secretaries of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana on Thursday, directing them that the measures be lifted with "immediate effect" as the prevailing air quality did not warrant such tough action.
However, measures enforced under the GRAP's “severe” category, including the closure of the Badarpur thermal power plant, a ban on brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers, will remain in force.
"We are watching the situation very carefully, and we have been informed by the India Meteorological Department and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology that pollution may rise again because of increased moisture in the air in the coming days. However, if the conditions continue to improve and air quality stabilises, we will review the measures under the “severe” category and inform you accordingly," Bhure Lal wrote.
Parking fee hike turned counter-productive: In the same letter, the EPCA said that the hike in parking fees to discourage use of private vehicles was rendered "ineffective" due to lack of public transport and laxity in acting against illegal parking. The hike is supposed to be in effect even when the air quality is “very poor”, not only when it turns “emergency”.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SMDC), the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had implemented a four-time hike in the fees from November 9, following the order by Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
“This measure has been made ineffective because of the lack of public transport and partly because of poor enforcement of illegal and unauthorised parking," Lal wrote.
On November 15, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot had written to Lt Governor Anil Baijal, urging him to "reconsider" the hike, saying the move was proving to be counterproductive. Hike in charges by municipal corporations had resulted in people resorting to roadside parking or using facilities at malls, Gahlot said.
With inputs from Housing News