As Delhi AQI improves, Centre's panel lifts ban on trucks, cars
The Centre's air quality panel Sunday directed authorities to lift the ban on plying of non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles in Delhi-NCR and entry of trucks into the capital imposed under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan.
The restrictions were imposed three days ago.
"As the present AQI level of Delhi is around 339 which is about 111 AQI points below the threshold for invoking the GRAP Stage-IV actions (Delhi AQI > 450) and preventive/ mitigative/ restrictive actions under all stages up to Stage-IV are underway, there is a likelihood of sustaining the improvement in AQI.
"The forecast by IMD/ IITM also does not indicate any steep degradation further," an order from the Commission for Air Quality Management read.
GRAP stage IV is a stage of disruptive restrictions that impacts a large number of stakeholders and the public at large. There are no stricter measures, than as laid in GRAP Stage-IV, that could be taken to improve upon the air quality scenario, the commission said.
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"The sub-committee, accordingly, hereby decides to revoke the order, issued vide dated November 3, 2022, for actions under Stage-IV of GRAP with immediate effect," it said.
Actions under stages I to III of GRAP will, however, remain invoked and be implemented, monitored and reviewed by all agencies concerned in the entire NCR to ensure that the AQI levels do not slip further to the 'severe' category.
Delhi's air pollution levels ameliorated marginally to the lower end of the "very poor" category on Sundayprimarily due to favourable wind speed and a drop inthe contribution of stubble burning.
The 24-hour average air quality index stood at 339 at 4 pm, dropping from 381 a day ago. It was 447 on Friday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
It had jumped to 450 on Thursday, just a notch short of the 'severe plus' category, prompting the authorities to invoke the final stage of anti-pollution curbs, including a ban on non-BSVI diesel light motor vehicles.
The CAQM had also directed the closure of all industries running on non-clean flues in the region, "even in areas which do not have PNG infrastructure and supply".
The number of farm fires in Punjab dropped sharply to 599 from 2817 a day ago, data from the Indian Agricultural Research Organisation (IARI) showed.
According to Safar, a forecasting agency under the Ministry of Earth and Sciences, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution also declined to 18 per cent from 21 per cent on Saturday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann owned responsibility on Friday for paddy straw burning in the border state and promised to curb the practice by next winter.
The number of stubble-burning incidents in Punjab rose by 12.59 per cent year-on-year to 26,583 in the last 50 days with a spurt in such cases after Diwali, according to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
In comparison, the number of paddy stubble-burning events in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi remained lower between September 15 and November 4 this year, the data stated.
The hazardous pollution levels prompted the Delhi government to announce on Friday that primary schools would remain shut from Saturday and 50 per cent of its staff will work from home, while private offices have been advised to follow suit.
A six-member panel chaired by the special commissioner of transport has been set up to monitor the implementation of curbs on anti-polluting activities.
Revenue commissioners have been asked to prepare a plan for staggered timings of markets and offices.
In a bid to ramp up public transport, the government will also launch 'Paryavaran Bus Service', which will include 500 privately-run CNG buses.
To reduce vehicular emissions, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai also appealed to the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana chief ministers to take measures to divert trucks carrying non-essential goods on peripheral expressways to avoid traffic jams at the capital's borders.
Kejriwal had said the odd-even car rationing scheme would be implemented if the need arises and discussions on it were underway.