In a move that will impact marketplaces, housing societies and the upcoming wedding season, diesel generator sets were banned in the capital from Tuesday as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to improve Delhi's air quality during the high-pollution winter months kicked in.
The ban was among a slew of measures enforced from Tuesday, when Delhi's air quality index fell to the "very poor" category , and will remain in place till March 15, 2018.
Announcing the measures, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) clarified that the ban on diesel gensets was being implemented only in Delhi, as the rest of the NCR was yet to find suitable alternatives. The ban won't apply to "essential services" such as hospitals, mobile towers and Metro. However, generators can't be used at weddings, housing societies and malls. "We already have a list of places which have applied for exemptions," said Sunita Narain, member EPCA. The full list of exemptions will be released on Wednesday by DPCC. Other anti-pollution measures in force from Tuesday include closure of brick kilns not using zig-zag technology (that reduces pollution by 80%), mechanised sweeping of roads, closure of the Badarpur thermal power plant and monitoring of trucks entering Delhi.
EPCA said all measures mentioned in the GRAP for pollution levels up to `severe' were being implemented in one go for the entire season. However, steps such as increasing parking fees three-four times and increasing public transport will take time to implement, it said.
EPCA said it was working on these measures and added that action will be taken based on the reports released each day by the task force. Other long-term measures include providing electric heaters to society guards in order to prevent burning of firewood and closure of hot mix as well as stone crushers.
"These are all preventive measures and we have implemented the first three categories so that the air quality does not reach emergency levels.The measures will remain in place and more directions can be issued based on the daily reports. We have a contingency plan as well and directions can be issued when required," Narain added.
The last category in the plan, classified as "emergency", can also see measures such as odd-even traffic restrictions and closure of schools. On Tuesday , brick kilns which were not using zig-zag technology which reduces pollution by 80% were shut down along with the Badarpur ther mal plant. In addition, trucks entering Delhi will be monitored and those not destined for the city to be sent back. EPCA also said measures to prevent burning of open waste and construction dust will be intensified with offenders to be fined. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has created a Whatsapp helpline number (9717593574) for people to submit photographs and complaints regarding waste burning.