The Delhi government on Monday lifted the ban on construction and demolition activities in view of an improvement in air quality in the capital.
Making the announcement, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that the government will take a call on the reopening of schools, work from home for government staff on November 24.
“We will also discuss if CNG-operated trucks carrying non-essential items can be allowed to enter Delhi,” Rai
The government on Sunday extended the ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items into the city and work from home for its employees till November 26, to combat air pollution and minimize its health effects.
According to the directions of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), schools and colleges would continue to be closed till further orders.
A senior central government official said that the CAQM will hold a review meeting on November 23.
“Keeping in view the very poor air quality forecast and that vehicular pollution would cause extensive air pollution and release harmful air pollutants, particularly when the air quality is very poor, it is felt that there is a need for further extension of the curbs on vehicular movement in Delhi,” the order issued by the Environment department said. “Stop entry of trucks in Delhi except the trucks carrying essential commodities till November 26, subject to further review for an extension of this date,” it added.
“All offices of GNCT of Delhi/autonomous bodies/corporations shall remain closed till November 26 except those involved in essential and emergency services…. However, all the officers/officials shall work from home,” the order said.
Following orders from the CAQM, the Delhi government had issued 10 directions on Wednesday, including a ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items into the city and a closure of schools and colleges, till further orders.
The government had also banned construction and demolition activities in the city and ordered its employees to work from home till Sunday (November 21).
The commission had held an emergency meeting with senior officials of Delhi and the NCR states of Haryana Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, on Tuesday, ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on air pollution in the region.
According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the air quality is likely to remain in the “poor to moderate” category on Monday and Tuesday. The air quality for the subsequent five days is also likely to remain in the “poor to the lower end of the very poor category”, it said.
On Sunday, winds gusting up to 20 kilometre per hour barrelled through the city, dispersing pollutants partially and improving visibility.
The city recorded its 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) at 349, down from 374 on Saturday. Neighbouring Faridabad (377), Ghaziabad (319), Gurugram (364) and Noida (322) also recorded the air quality in the “very poor” category.
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”.
R K Jenamani, a senior scientist at the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), said that the wind speed reached up to 20 kmph during the day, improving visibility from 800 metre in the morning to the range of 2,200 to 3,000 metre at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the Safdarjung Airport.
“Winds gusting up to 30 kilometre per hour are likely on Monday,” the IMD said.
(With inputs from Agencies)