To keep Delhi's air quality under check, only CNG and electric trucks, along with trucks providing essential services, will be allowed to enter Delhi between November 27 and December 3, during which all other trucks will be barred from entering the national capital.
"For the last three days, there have been an improvement in Delhi's pollution levels. If we look at the average air quality index before Diwali, Delhi has reached those levels again. The pollution levels had been steadily rising after Diwali. Considering that, multiple restrictions were put in place, apart from the routine processes. Today, we held a review meeting with the higher officials of Delhi, and many important decisions were taken," Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said in a press briefing after a high-level meeting to decide on the measures needed to keep Delhi's air clean.
"Until now, trucks and other commercial vehicles, except essential service providers, were banned from entering Delhi. But today we have decided that starting November 27, CNG and electric trucks will be allowed to enter Delhi. Other trucks will remain banned till December 3. From November 27, CNG and electric trucks, as well as essential service vehicles, will be allowed to enter, while others will remain banned till December 3," he added.
"Schools, colleges, and institutes will reopen on November 29. All schools, colleges, institutes, libraries that were banned can now reopen from Monday. Also, from November 29, all government offices will reopen and the work-from-home directive will be lifted. But it is advisable that all government employees use public transport to the greatest extent for the purpose of commuting.
"There are colonies and areas, like Nimri Colony, Gulabi Bagh and Timarpur, from where a majority of Delhi government employees come. In all such places, special buses will be started to facilitate the employees' commute," Rai said, adding, "We will also start shuttle bus service from the Delhi Secretariat to ITO and Indraprastha Metro stations for the employees."
"Recently, the Delhi government had removed restrictions on construction and demolition activities. All the construction agencies have also been advised to stick to the 14-point guideline. We have deployed 585 teams to keep a check at such sites to curb dust pollution. Those found violating the norms will be penalised and subjected to strict action without any notice whatsoever," the minister added.
In an appeal to the people, the Environment Minister said, "We are reopening things, but our fight against pollution will continue. Therefore, it is necessary for everyone to cooperate, because together we can reduce this pollution further so that Delhi can have better air. So far, 1,221 sites have been inspected. Out of which construction work has been stopped at 105 places. Close monitoring is being done daily by the government. The conditions will definitely improve. But the government will not shy away from taking any tough step if needed."
The Delhi government on Monday lifted the ban on construction activities after marginal improvement in the national capital's air quality.
On November 21, all schools in the national capital were shut until further orders of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, owing to the rising levels of air pollution in the city.
Since Diwali, the AQI of the national capital continued to hover around the upper end of the 'very poor' or 'severe' category. The change in wind direction, stubble burning and bursting of firecrackers were cited to be the reasons behind the worsened air quality.
Air quality visibly improved in Delhi after strong surface winds swept through the city on Sunday with Wednesday's AQI being recorded at 280 by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
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