Delhi could see strict air pollution-control measures, including a hike in parking charges and differential fares to encourage use of public transport in off-peak hours, as the graded response action plan notified by the Centre was rolled out on Friday.
The action plan, which was notified by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry on January 12 and submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board to the Supreme Court in November 2016, will cover the entire National Capital Region - the first such initiative.
On Friday, the agency meant to monitor the implementation of the plan, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), held the first meeting since the plan was notified.
EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal told The Hindu that officials of the Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan governments had been issued directions as per the plan. As per the air quality index values observed in the past 48 hours, he said moderate to poor conditions were observed in the NCR and very poor in Delhi.
As per the action plan, the measures for very poor air quality include stopping the use of diesel generator sets, increasing parking fee by up to four times, augmenting public transport and stopping the use of coal and firewood by hotels and eateries.
Sunita Narain, director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment and a member of the EPCA, said that while all the measures would not be rolled out instantly, the plan had been put into action.
“I’m happy that the process has started. We have recognised the air shed of the NCR for the first time. The State governments have held meetings at the chief secretary-level,” said Ms. Narain.
She added that the EPCA directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to carry out a study of polluting industries in unauthorised areas.
On the ban on diesel generator sets, Ms. Narain said the Delhi government was asked to define the “essential” purposes for which DG sets would be allowed.
Ms. Narain said that the need to prevent burning of waste was reiterated at the meeting. The representatives from Haryana were asked to strengthen the Pollution Under Control (PUC) centres in that State, she said.