As the forecast of the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi is likely to be in ‘Poor’ and ‘Very Poor’ categories given the unfavourable climatic and meteorological conditions that generally prevail in the NCR during winters and the occurrence of farm fires, Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas has intensified its efforts to ensure enforcement and compliance of its directions.
The commission has been informing and sensitizing all stakeholders — industrial houses, commercial establishments, construction agencies, state government and GNCTD agencies, ULBs in NCR and public at large — about the preventive, mitigative and restrictive actions required to be taken under the GRAP, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said in a statement.
Stage-I and Stage-II of the revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) were invoked by the Commission on October 5 and 19 respectively, the ministry said.
Besides GRAP and a comprehensive policy to curb air pollution in NCR, various statutory directions, advisories and orders have been issued by the Commission from time to time for appropriate measures by various agencies concerned.
The standard approved fuel list for NCR bans use of heavily polluting fuels like coal, furnace oil, etc. Biomass fuels with stricter emission norms have however been permitted in NCR, outside the territorial jurisdiction of GNCTD considering the huge availability and need to promote environmentally sustainable use of biomass. The Commission in association with the State Governments has launched a drive for shifting all industries in NCR to cleaner fuels as per approved list.
The Commission has issued closure directions to 45 coal based industrial units in Rajasthan. 32 coal-based units (9 in Haryana and 23 in UP) have been closed down permanently. 48 units (8 in Haryana and 40 in UP) have temporarily suspended their operations till these units are converted to approved fuels.
With the prime objective to abate the air pollution levels in the NCR, the Commission has intensified incognito field inspections through flying squads towards better enforcement and monitoring of compliance of all relevant air pollution related statutes and guidelines. The focus of incognito inspections at this stage has been on compliance of statutory directions of the Commission particularly for the use of only approved fuels, adherence to emission standards in industries and effectiveness of emission control devices (ECD), enforcement and effectiveness of dust control measures in C&D activities and road projects, enforcement of regulations on use of DG sets and effective actions as per the GRAP, the CAQM said.
The Commission has stated that since invoking the GRAP Stage-I from October 6, a total of 472 incognito inspections have been carried out in industrial areas and construction projects across NCR and 52 grossly violating units/projects have been issued closure orders. Closure orders have been issued to 24 grossly violating industrial units. Of these, five industrial units were still found using coal and other unapproved polluting fuels.
The Commission said it is also monitoring the compliance of directions for C&D projects. As per norms C&D projects on plot area greater than 500 sq. mtr. are required to register on a web portal for remote online monitoring, besides adhering to various directions of CAQM, rules and guidelines related to dust mitigating measures. 28 project sites still not registered on the web portal and violating the statutory directions, dust control norms and related guidelines have been issued closure directions by the Commission. Closure directions also mandate imposition of deterrent environment compensation charges, besides action for prosecution under the provisions of the CAQM Act, it said.
The Commission has urged all stakeholders to comply with and follow the statutory directions to avoid closure notices and/ or penal action and contribute towards a better air quality for NCR.