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As the air quality in the national capital plunged to severe for the first time this season with an AQI of 401 on Tuesday, the Supreme Court appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) said that private vehicles may be taken off road from November 1 if the situation remains the same. The recommendations will be part of severe/emergency measures being taken by the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) which was enforced a fortnight ago when air quality had started deteriorating steadily with stubble burning in neighbouring states.

Bhure Lal, chairman of EPCA was quoted as saying to agencies, “Let us hope the air pollution situation in Delhi doesn’t deteriorate but if it turns out to be an emergency, we will have to stop the use of private transport.” He added, “There is a committee which will advise me on this.”

However, he could not be reached over the phone when DNA tried to contact him to find out if GRAP indeed has such a provision in the steps formulated by them. Calls to Sunita Narain, member, EPCA also went unanswered.

Meanwhile, environment experts expressed dismay over the step being mulled by the authority, calling it foolhardy and “barely effective”. They said that the city didn’t have the infrastructure to handle commuting of such a large population, adding that the move will barely impact the smog cover that’s engulfed the city for the past over a week.

Talking to DNA, Dr Priyanka Kulshreshtha, head, research and communication, Indian Pollution Control Association said, “The contribution of vehicular pollution to the prevailing smog is around 25 per cent. But banning private vehicles won’t help because the PM 2.5 is largely coming from construction activity and road dust. We do not even have a robust public transport system to make it a success.” “If the agencies really want to curtail affect of vehicular emissions, it should ban all kind of transport and make metro mandatory. Trucks entering the city should also be stopped,” she further said. Explaining further, the environmentalist said that meteorological conditions at this time of the year are such that such a ban will be rendered ineffective. “The temperature is dropping consistently while humidity is increasing, trapping the pollutants,” she stated.

On the other hand, the EPCA will enforce fresh measures from November 1 as part of emergency steps since the air quality has become severe. The Central Pollution Control Board has asked to ban all construction activity, brick kiln, use of diesel gensets in Delhi and burning of garbage from November 1 to November 10. closure of all dust generating activities, biomass based and coal based industries and ramping up of checks on polluting vehicles. It has been recommended that measures to curb dust generation and stringent checks on pollution vehicles should roll out from November 1 and biomass based, coal-based industries should close from November 4. A restriction on dust generating activities will mean that construction sites, excavation of roads and repair works will have to halt.

CPCB Diktat 

The Central Pollution Control Board has asked to ban all construction activity, brick kiln, use of diesel gensets in Delhi and burning of garbage from November 1 to November 10

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