The Uttar Pradesh government has asked the state’s western districts, in and around the National Capital Region (NCR), to suspend all construction activities between November 1 and November 10, 2018 and shut for a week industries using coal and biomass fuel, to check pollution. It has also asked them to ensure strict compliance to other Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) guidelines.
“All authorities are requested to bear in mind the seriousness of the issue and ensure strict implementation of the orders,” Anup Chandra Pandey, the chief secretary to the UP government said, in a letter on October 31, 2018, to the divisional commissioners of Meerut and Saharanpur. A copy of the letter was sent to the district magistrates of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Meerut, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Shamli.
All construction activities involving excavation, civil construction (excluding internal finishing/work where no construction material is used), to remain closed in the NCR districts from November 1 to 10, 2018, the letter stated. All stone crushers, hot mix plants generating dust pollution to remain closed in the districts during the period, it said. The national capital’s air quality was on the brink of turning severe on November 1, 2018, due to stubble-burning in the adjoining regions and unfavourable meteorological conditions, authorities said.
The overall air quality index of Delhi was recorded at 392, which falls in the ‘very poor’ category and was just eight points from turning severe.
The UP government letter said that all industries using coal and biomass fuel (excluding thermal and waste to energy plants) should remain closed in the NCR districts, from November 4 to November 10, 2018. However, the industries using natural gas as fuel can continue to operate, it stated. The government has also directed the transport departments and traffic police in these districts, to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control traffic congestion in Delhi and other NCR districts during the period. “There should be no tolerance for visibly polluting vehicles. This will require stringent monitoring and on-spot fines,” it said. It has sought intensification of patrol including in the night, in industrial areas and other ‘hot spots’ in cities, so that there is complete control on waste burning, as well as industrial emissions.
“The EPCA has already brought to your attention that it has found cases of waste burning and industrial emissions, which is a gross violation of the GRAP (Graded Responsibility Action Plan) conditions,” it added.
The government has also asked the districts to raise awareness among the public, for the need to minimise their exposure to pollution and also advice people to reduce their travel using private vehicles as much as possible. It has also asked local administrations to publish a list of penalties that have been imposed and actions taken against people or industries found polluting. “This information will provide deterrence and help improve enforcement,” the letter stated.
Meanwhile, the Gautam Buddh Nagar administration has directed local authorities – the Noida Authority, the Greater Noida Authority and the Yamuna Expressway Authority – to ensure strict implementation of the government order, officials said.