WFH policy, ban on industries among measures suggested by Delhi govt to tackle pollution: Gopal Rai

Implementing work from home policy in Delhi-NCR and closing down industries are some of the steps suggested by the Delhi government in a meeting of the Commission for Air Quality Management held on Tuesday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday had announced various emergency measures, including the closure of schools for a week, a ban on construction activities and work from home for government employees, to deal with the pollution crisis faced by the city.

“On Monday, DPCC (Delhi Pollution Control Committee) teams went to see whether the measures are being implemented and they found that the construction work has been stopped,” Mr. Rai told reporters.

The Supreme Court on Monday had directed the Commission for Air Quality Management to hold a joint meeting and on Tuesday, the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh participated in the meeting.

“In the meeting, Delhi government officials suggested implementing work from home policy in Delhi-NCR, ban on construction work and ban on industries so that pollution levels can be controlled. The other states have also put forth their views and we are waiting for an official notification from the commission,” Mr. Rai said in the briefing.

He said that this meeting will lead to the emergence of a joint action plan.

The Delhi minister asked the Union environment minister to clear confusion over the contribution of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution so as to effectively control it.

“Yesterday, the Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that stubble burning contributes four per cent to pollution in the national capital. In the same affidavit, the Centre mentioned that in a meeting held with experts it was said that it contributes 35-40 per cent in the pollution levels. I want to urge the Union Environment minister to clear the facts. The same affidavit has two facts. Which is the correct figure,” he asked.

The minister said that with the correct figures, they will be able to frame a strategy to curb pollution.

“The strategy that will be formed on the basis of the four per cent figure will yield different results and the strategy formed seeing the 35 per cent figure will have a different outcome,” he added.

Mr. Rai also cited the figures made public by the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor SAFAR, which showed the fire contribution to pollution from November 4 to 14.

“The fire contribution was 25 per cent on November 4, 36 per cent on November 5, 41 per cent on November 6, 48 per cent on November 7, 30 per cent on November 8, 27 per cent on November 9 and 10, 26 per cent on November 11, 35 per cent on November 12, 31 per cent on November 13 and 12 per cent on November 14.

“Going by these figures, the average comes to 31 per cent. This is also data by the central government. We urge the Union environment minister to clear the air on the figures so that a correct strategy can be formulated,” he added.

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