Air Pollution: CAQM advises NCR districts to close schools

Delhi School Pollution Mask

New Delhi: With an aim to minimise the impact of severe air pollution on citizens, the Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) on Sunday advised Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to shut down schools and construction and demolition (C&D) activities this week for the districts falling in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Apart from the orders issued two days ago, the sub-committee of the CAQM on Sunday further invoked stringent measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) and advised states and agencies concerned to be in “complete readiness for implementing ‘Emergency Measures’ as listed under GRAP”.

This was decided at a crucial meeting on an emergent basis in wake of the continued deteriorating air quality of the Delhi-NCR region, a release from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change said. For over a week or more, Delhi and NCR districts have continuously witnessed “very poor” and “severe” air quality.

While soliciting views from the governments of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the Commission advised the departments concerned to consider similar restrictions/ regulations in the respective NCR districts as implemented by the Delhi government on Saturday, including “closure of schools up to November 20 and closure of C&D activities from Sunday till November 17”.

Further, the state governments and district administrations in the NCR states were also suggested to issue a Citizen Charter/Advisory for the general public including various steps that need to be taken during various stages/categories of the GRAP. The Commission also reiterated the need for extra vigilance and concerted measures in various sectors that immediately and adversely impact the air quality.

The Commission identified five different areas contributing to the prevailing adverse air quality of Delhi-NCR that needed better focus with intensified efforts by the agencies concerned of the respective state governments. The areas identified are: control of paddy stubble burning incidences, control of dust from construction and demolition activities, control of dust from roads and open areas, vehicular pollution, and industrial pollution.

“CAQM has pulled out all the stops in the battle against air pollution. The Commission, from time to time, has been advising various policy initiatives and actions directed towards improvement of air quality in the region. From issuing 43 directions and seven advisories to regularly holding meetings with the departments concerned of the state governments and other agencies concerned of NCR, CAQM has been pro-actively taking stock of efforts taken by the respective states towards abatement of air pollution,” the Ministry release said.

The CAQM, at the meeting, said that it is of the view that there is a vital need for regular assessments by senior level management in the state governments and the agencies concerned so as to be well aware of the visible impact of the efforts initiated on-ground towards improvement of air quality in Delhi-NCR.

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