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Delhi Air pollution: Govt lifts ban on construction; call on school, college reopening on Nov 24

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New Delhi, Nov 22: Following an improvement in air quality in Delhi, the government has lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities in the city, Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced on Monday.

Delhi Air pollution: Govt lifts ban on construction; call on school, college reopening on Nov 24

The minister said that the government will take a decision on the reopening of schools, colleges and educational institutions on Wednesday. "We will discuss if CNG-operated trucks carrying non-essential items be allowed to enter Delhi if the situation continues to improve," Rai said.

On Sunday, the ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items was extended and work-from-home for its employees till November 26 to combat air pollution and minimise its health effects.

"For some time, the air quality index remained above the 600-mark. However, stringent and comprehensive steps taken to contain air pollution and change in the wind pattern have resulted in a gradual decline in air pollution levels which had been increasing since Diwali," Rai said.

"In view of the improvement in the air quality and inconvenience caused to workers, we have decided to lift the ban on construction and demolition activities. However, the government will continue to monitor the implementation of dust control measures... All agencies will have to strictly follow the 14-point guidelines issued against dust pollution," he claimed at a press conference.

He said 585 monitoring teams have been working to ensure compliance of directions. "If any agency is found violating dust control norms, the government will stop work and impose a penalty without notice," the environment minister added.

In addition to it, 1,000 private CNG-operated buses have been hired by the government to augment public transport. These have 'Prayavaran Bus Sewa' written on them and have the same facilities as the DTC ones.

He also said up to 17 people can travel standing in a bus and 30 per coach in Delhi Metro.

Gopal Rai further added that the drive to impound old petrol and diesel vehicles and PUC certificate checking will continue to tackle vehicle pollution will continue. "Four thousand people have been fined Rs 10,000 each this month so far for violating pollution norms," he said.

On Monday, Delhi's 24-hour Air Quality Index came down to 311 from 349 on Sunday. PTI

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