Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Tuesday said implementing work from home policy in Delhi-NCR and closing down industries are some of the steps suggested by the Delhi government in a meeting of the Commission for Air Quality Management. The meeting was held today.
Earlier on Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced various emergency measures, including the closure of schools for a week, a ban on construction activities and work from home for government employees, to deal with the pollution crisis faced by the city.
"On Monday, DPCC teams went to see whether the measures are being implemented and they found that the construction work has been stopped," Rai told reporters.
The Supreme Court on Monday had directed the Commission For Air Quality Management to hold a joint meeting and on Tuesday, the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh participated in the meeting.
"In the meeting, Delhi government officials suggested implementing work from home policy in Delhi-NCR, ban on construction work and ban on industries so that pollution levels can be controlled. The other states have also put forth their views and we are waiting for an official notification from the commission," Rai said in the briefing.
'Red Light On, Gaddi Off' campaign extended by 15 days
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has decided to extend the "Red Light On, Gaddi Off" campaign by 15 days in view of the rising pollution levels in the national capital, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Tuesday.
The "Red Light On, Gaadi Off" initiative -- turning off a car's engine at a red signal -- was supposed to end on November 18. "The government has taken a decision to extend the campaign by 15 days, from November 19 to December 3," Rai said.
Nearly 2,500 civil defence volunteers are deployed at 100 crossings to make people aware of the significance of turning off their car engine when they are waiting at the traffic signal. The volunteers are deployed from 8 am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 8 pm in two shifts.
"People are working from home but still cars are out there on the streets. While driving a person, on average, crosses 10-12 crossings and for 30 minutes, fuel-burning happens without any reason. We can take steps to reduce this," the minister added.
Meanwhile, speaking about the impact of banning construction activities, Nayan Raheja, executive director, Raheja Developers, said that several key infrastructure projects may be delayed. He suggested that the government should consider the extension of RERA timelines accordingly as works will be stopped in view of the hazardous levels of air pollution.
Pradeep Aggarwal, Founder & Chairman, Signature Global and Chairman, National Council on Affordable Housing, ASSOCHAM, said that many developers are today using advanced techniques to ensure that they do not harm the environment. "The concern towards the environment is genuine. But the government has to come up with a permanent solution for this yearly phenomenon, otherwise construction activities will keep on delaying and thus hampering the economic activities," he said.
The air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorated ahead of Diwali and entered into the 'severe' zone after the festival. Authorities have said that although a marginal improvement was seen on Sunday, the AQI remained in the 'very poor' zone. On Tuesday morning, no improvement in the air quality was reported as it remained in the 'very poor' category. Authorities have said that the situation will remain the same for another three days.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.