How Delhi-NCR's Pollution Hotspots Are Taming The Toxic
Delhi and the cities of the neigbhouring states, including Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have been under constant cover of the pollution-laden smog for more than two weeks now. With pollution levels being recorded as 'severe', some specific areas have emerged as the pollution hotspots in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR).
These hotspots – Anand Vihar, Bhiwadi, Noida and Ghaziabad – are now under the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) scanner. The EPCA recently directed the Delhi-NCR authorities to draw up a time-bound action plan to clean up the air of these hotspots.
While Anand Vihar, in east Delhi, has consistently recorded alarming levels of pollution, Bhiwadi, an industrial area in Rajasthan's Alwar district, has emerged as one of the most polluted zones of the country in recent times. Ghaziabad and Noida are satellite townships in Uttar Pradesh, located near the national capital. On November 9, the Air Quality Index for Ghaziabad was recorded at 499 on a scale of 500.
The problem areas
Various factors put together are contributing to the rising pollution levels in these hotspots, alarmingly. While Noida's Sector 125, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) monitors have been recorded to have high pollution, in Anand Vihar, according to EPCA chairman Bhure Lal, there are areas that do not have a single toilet or urinal, resembled an "open air latrine”.
The major causes of these rising pollution levels are:
- The rising dust from the ongoing construction work in the NCR, especially Noida,
- The burning of stubble in farms of Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan,
- The hot mix plant and other energy-producing plants around NCR
- Industry pollution in the cities around NCR.
Adding to this is the garbage fills and also, open defecation.
The action plan
Various city authorities as well as state governments are now taking up steps to curb the rising toxic levels in the air making it difficult for residents of these pollution hotspots, which are also the prominent real estate hotspots of Delhi-NCR.
Some of the key steps taking include:
- The Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA), on November 12, started an anti-pollution drive. Under the drive, the GNIDA has divided the city into five zones and formed teams to penalise the ones flouting the green norms set by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). It also urged people to complain if they witness someone flouting the norms. The penalty set by the GNIDA ranges between Rs 5,000 and Rs 500,000 depending on the severity of the violation.
- The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board on November 11 ordered the suspension of work in 123 industrial units, including eight sugar mills, especially in the NCR region until November 14. Further, the UPPCB also fined around 200 vehicles for violating pollution control norms. On November 13, the UP pollution board ordered the shutdown of production in 88 more factories. Now, the total number of factories where production has been suspended stands at 315.
- The Noida Authority, after being pulled up by the NGT, conducted a surprise inspection ten Work Circles on November 8. The authority levied fines amounting to Rs 31 lakh in a day from those who flouted the green norms laid down by the NGT.
- Sprinkling of water has been taken up by almost all the civic authorities. This will help curb dust pollution, one of the major causes of the smog in the NCR.
- The NGT also took some steps and banned the construction and industrial activities and entry of trucks in the national capital. The authority has directed the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana to ensure that no crop stubble is burnt, adding to the rising pollution levels.
- In a suggestion from Bhure Lal, chairman, EPCA, around 900 buses belonging to the Uttar Pradesh State Transport Corporation operating in Delhi can use the bus terminal of UP, which has ample space and located close to the Anand Vihar ISBT.
- While no hotspot is in Haryana, steps taken by the state government will help bring down the pollution levels in these areas. Some of the leading cases of stubble burning have been reported from this state. To curb this, the Haryana government has taken strict actions against farmers burning stubble. So far, cases have been registered against 244 farmers and fines of up to Rs 18.65 lakh have been recovered.