The Delhi government has informed the Supreme Court that it is ready to take steps like complete lockdown to control pollution if it is mandated for the entire NCR area.
”GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi) is ready to take steps like complete lockdown to control the local emissions. However, such a step would be meaningful if it is implemented across the NCR areas in neighbouring states. Given Delhi’s compact size, a lockdown would have limited impact on the air quality regime,” the Delhi government said in an affidavit.
”This issue would need to be addressed at the level of airshed involving NCR areas. In view of the above, we are ready to consider this step if the same is mandated for the entire NCR areas by the government of India or by the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and adjoining areas,” it said.
The affidavit was submitted in response to a plea filed by environmental activist Aditya Dubey and law student Aman Banka, who sought directions to provide stubble-removing machines to small and marginal farmers for free.
The Delhi government apprised the top court that keeping in view the deteriorating ambient air quality all Schools, Colleges, Educational and Coaching Institutes, Skill Development & Training Institutes, Other Training Institutes, Libraries (except where exams are being conducted) have been closed till November 20, 2021.
”All private offices, establishments are advised to allow their staff to work from home, so as to ensure least vehicular movement on the roads till November 17, 2021, the Delhi government said.
The AAP government also told the top court that all private offices and establishments have been advised to allow their staff to work from home, so as to ensure least vehicular movement on the roads till November 17, 2021.
It submitted that over the past several years, the Air Quality Index does not go in to ‘severe’ category from February till September.
”In fact, October, 2021 has been the cleanest month in the last six years with better air quality and no severe days were witnessed and also saw less stubble burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana averaging around 675 incidents per day.
”At the same time, November 2021 saw seven severe days in the first 13 days of the month and corresponded with an increased number of stubble burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana averaging around 4,300 incidents per day,” the Delhi government said.
In compliance with the order of the top court, a smog tower at Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Connaught Place, has been installed and commissioned on August 23, 2021, the AAP government said.
”Thirteen Hotspots namely Narela, Bawana, Mundka, Wazirpur, Rohini, R K Puram, Okhla, Jahangirpuri, Anand Vihar, Punjabi Bagh, Mayapuri, Vivek Vihar and Dwarka were identified on the basis of annual concentration of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in Delhi and action is being taken on specific mitigation measures to control air pollution,” it said.
Enumerating several steps taken it, the Delhi government told the apex court that action is being taken against petrol and diesel vehicles older than 15 years, construction and demolition sites are being rigorously inspected and industries are being monitored for compliance on use of only approved fuels.
”Delhi Pollution Control Committee had initiated steps to convert all identified 1,636 industrial units to switch over to PNG to curb air pollution due to industrial emissions. Regular inspections were carried out to check the use of PNG in the industries identified. All identified 1,636 industries have converted to PNG. All these units have been re-inspected in October, 2021 and have been found to be compliant,” it said.
Highlighting steps taken by it to augmentation public transport, the Delhi government said presently, the city bus fleet consists of 6,767 buses (3,760 DTC + 3,007 Cluster buses).
”In addition, public transport services are being provided through about 800 mini buses and 174 metro feeder buses. Orders have been placed for 300 Low Floor Electric buses to be inducted under Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles in India (FAME-II) scheme. Till date, 2,246 Delhi Metro coaches are in service, and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is planning to induct 120 coaches by March 2022. Further, additional 312 coaches are planned to be inducted,” it said.
It said Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy was approved vide Cabinet which aims to encourage rapid adoption of Electric vehicles in Delhi and establishing the necessary charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
The policy provides for ”creation of an enabling environment for the provision of private as well as public charging Infrastructure. In this regard, Delhi Transco Ltd., an enterprise of Power Department, GNCTD has floated a tender for the installation of 100 charging stations across Delhi, for which the locations/ sites have been identified. It is planned to provide a capital subsidy of Rs 10 Crores as one-time expense for electrical infrastructure augmentation up to 100 kW across these,” the AAP government said.
It said that E-rickshaws are being widely used by the commuters for last mile connectivity in Delhi.
”Number of registered e-rickshaws has increased to 1,14,782 as on October 31, 2021, due to grant of fiscal incentive Rs 30,000 towards registration of e-rickshaws by the GNCTD. Further, DMRC is in the process of inducting electric buses for providing last mile connectivity services on metro feeder routes,” it said.
More than 250 teams have been set-up across Delhi for day and night patrolling to monitor garbage burning in colonies, it said adding that effective control and management of road dust is being looked into.
In fight against pollution, Delhi Government has launched the campaign ”Yudh, Pradushan ke Virudh”, with citizen engagement (Jan Bhagidari) i.e., with RWA members , environmental NGOs, youth organizations etc. in coordination with government machinery.
Terming the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR an ”emergency” situation, the apex court on Saturday suggested clamping a lockdown in the national capital as it asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take immediate measures to improve the air quality.
The court had said the situation of pollution is so bad that people are wearing masks inside their houses.
It had said there are other reasons for pollution such as vehicular emissions, firecrackers and dust, and singling out stubble burning is not the solution. The apex court had also expressed concern that schools in the city have opened and children are being exposed to severe pollution conditions.