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Pollution: Inspected 1,534 places, issued closure notices to 228 factories in Delhi-NCR, panel tells SC

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New Delhi, Dec 10: A total of 1,534 places including factories and construction sites in Delhi-NCR states have been inspected by 40 flying squads, and 228 sites have been issued closure notices while 111 of them stand closed, to ensure curb in the air pollution level, the Commission on Air Quality Management (CAQM) informed the Supreme Court on Friday.

A bench headed by Chief justice N V Ramana took note of the action taken so far by the commission and the NCR states - Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan - as also the "slight" improvement in air pollution level in Delhi-NCR and permitted the panel to take a decision on representations seeking easing of curbs on construction activities among others, within a week.

Pollution: Inspected 1,534 places, issued closure notices to 228 factories in Delhi-NCR, panel tells SC

The affidavit, filed by the CAQM Director in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, gave details of short and long term measures being taken by it in consultation with states and other authorities to control air pollution and said the Centre has informed that it will not be feasible to keep thermal power near Delhi-NCR closed after December 15 keeping in mind the power situation.

Earlier, the panel had told the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, that six out of 11 Thermal Power Plants located within 300 km radius of Delhi, are closed till December 15. "Regarding the functioning of Thermal Power Plants, the Ministry of Power was requested by the Commission to explore and examine the possibility of shutting down operations of some more Thermal Power Plants in addition to Plants, which are already closed...beyond December 15...

"Detailed deliberations were held...and the situation was reviewed in consultation with Power System Operation Corporation Limited (POSOCL) and the ministry of power was of the considered view that while the number of thermal power plants that can be shut down cannot be further increased, even shutting down of the six plants within 300 km radius of Delhi would also not be feasible beyond 15.12.2021, in view of the electricity scenario," the panel said.

It said flying squads, constituted on December 2, are now 40 in numbers and have been monitoring execution directions of the commission by conducting "incognito inspections/ surprise checks" at industry, construction and demolition sites, DG Set operations in commercial and residential complexes, open waste burning and miscellaneous sources across all the NCR districts of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and the NCT of Delhi.

"A total of 1,534 sites were inspected by the Flying Squad and a total of 228 sites were issued notices of closure by the ETF/ Commission," it said, adding that 68 such sites have been issued closure notices in Delhi itself.

The ETF has been meeting on a daily basis to take stock of the situation and take the necessary actions, it said, adding, "Further, to ensure strict compliance of the Closure Orders... the Flying Squads were directed to physically verify the status/ compliance of closure orders issued by all over Delhi, NCR, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh..".

After meticulously reviewing all the sites in question physically, it has been confirmed by the Flying Squads that as on December 9, "a total 111 industries/ factory/ site etc stand closed until further notice." Maximum violations arise from the industrial sector, which is a major contributing sector to air pollution particularly during the winter months and with this in view and the priority being accorded by the Commission towards effective control of air pollution, it contemplated the shifting of industries to cleaner fuels, it said, adding that directions have been issued to NCR states.

"All industries in NCR, located in industrial areas/ clusters where gas infrastructure and supply are available shall immediately be shifted to gas and the State Governments were directed to furnish industry- wise date/ timeline for switch over to PNG/cleaner fuels," the order of the commission reads. As regards vehicular Pollution, the entry of Trucks in Delhi except those carrying essential commodities, continues to remain banned, it said.

"A total number of 7,673 trucks carrying non-essential items have been stopped at all entry points at Delhi and a total of 22,873 number of trucks carrying essential items have been permitted to enter Delhi," it said. The actions have been taken on restricting the plying of diesel and petrol vehicles of more than 10 and 15 years respectively and its impounding in NCR, the affidavit said.

It said the 'Expert Group', constituted by the Commission, having domain knowledge and data in the field of meteorological conditions impacting air quality, statistical modeling besides historical scientific data on air quality related parameters in Delhi-NCR along with IITM and IMD are in the process of finalizing an air quality forecast model in terms of the Air Quality Index (AQI).

Earlier, the commission had told the bench that the 'Enforcement Task Force' and 17 Flying Squads have been constituted to check defaulters of air pollution. PTI

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