Government Issues Directions for Pollution Control and Improving Ambient Air Quality in Delhi and NCR

The air quality or the lack of it in Delhi has been a matter of discussion of late. Following the admonishment by the Court, the Government in Delhi led by the AAP is introducing the controversial odd-even car rule from January. The Central Government had been quiet till now. However, today the Central Government has issued directions to all agencies falling under Delhi airshed area, under Section 18 of Air Act, 1981, to control air pollution and improve the Ambient Air Quality in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR). The directions have been issued to state governments of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
These directions include action against polluting vehicles, stopping overloading of vehicles, ensuring no-parking in non-designated areas, mechanized sweeping of roads, stopping waste and wheat stock burning etc. The Govt. also talks about promoting battery-operated vehicles. If sufficient push is given, then the price of batteries would come down making the battery operated vehicles economical. The order by the Central Govt. also talks about introduction of staggered office timings for minimizing the peak traffic.
I am sharing the complete text of the directions given under Section 18 (1) (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 regarding prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and improvement of National Ambient Air Quality in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR):

“Whereas, under Section 17 (1) (a) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, one of the functions of the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) is to plan comprehensive programmes for prevention, control or abatement of air pollution and to secure the execution thereof;
Whereas, levels of Particulate Matter (PM10 & PM2.5) exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) 2009 in the National Capital Region (NCR);
Whereas, the primary sources of air pollution in NCR States are: a) vehicular emissions; b) burning of biomass, Crop residues, Municipal Solid Waste and Garbage, c) Road dust; d) Constructions and Demolitions; and g) Industrial emissions, etc;
Whereas, serious concerns have been expressed by Hon’ble Supreme Court, High Court of Delhi and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the matter from time to time and specific directions have been issued;
Whereas, there have been regular meetings between Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) with the Government of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to evolve and implement short and long-term action plans;
Whereas, the concerned State Governments have agreed to implement identified actions on short and long term basis;
Whereas, clean air is a matter of right and it is necessary to implement steps towards improvement of Air Quality in the National Capital Region;
Whereas, functions of the Central Pollution Control Board under Section 16 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 include improvement of quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country;
Whereas, steps are urgently required to improve air quality adopting a multipronged and integrated approach including close monitoring of implementation;
NOW, THEREFORE, in view of the above stated facts, the following directions in exercise of powers under section 18(1) (b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 are hereby issued in order to improve the air quality in Delhi and NCR as per timelines indicated:

Control of Vehicular Emissions:

Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Launch extensive awareness drive against polluting vehicles; Immediate
ii) Ensure Strict action against visibly polluting vehicles; Immediate
iii) Install weigh in motion bridges at Delhi borders to prevent overloading; Immediate
iv) Take steps to prevent parking of vehicles in the non-designated areas; Immediate
v) Introduce early alarm system for benefit of commuters related to traffic congestion on major routes for route diversion ; Immediate
vi) Consider introducing plan for Flexi/staggered timings to minimize peak movement of vehicles on the road; Immediate
vii) Take steps for retrofitting of diesel vehicles with Particulate Filters; Immediate
viii) De-congest pathways; Immediate
ix) Synchronize traffic movements / Introduce intelligent traffic systems for lane-driving; 30 days
x) Install vapor recovery system in fueling stations 30 days
xi) Take steps for installation of remote sensor based PUC system etc.; 90 days
xii) Formulate action plan for controlling decongestion of fuel stations including increasing number of dispensing machines; 90 days
xiii) Prepare action plan to check fuel adulteration and random monitoring of fuel quality data; 90 days
xiv) Prepare action plan for public transport on CNG mode; 90 days
xv) Undertake road widening and improvement of infrastructure for decongestion of road; 90 days
xvi) Promote battery operated vehicles; 90 days
xvii) Take steps to expedite early completion of Western and Eastern Peripheral expressway and submit completion schedule 60 days

(B) Control of Road Dust/Re-suspension of dust and other fugitive emission:
Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Formulate action plan for creation of green buffers along the traffic corridors; Immediate
ii) Introduce wet/ mechanized vacuum sweeping of roads; 30 days
iii) Maintain pot holes free roads for free-flow of traffic to reduce emissions and dust; 60 days
iv) Introduce water fountains at major traffic intersection, wherever feasible; 90 days
v) Undertake greening of open areas, gardens, community places, schools and housing societies. 90 days
vi) Take steps for blacktopping / pavement of road shoulders to avoid road dust; 180 days

(C) Control of Air Pollution from Bio-Mass Burning:

Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Take stringent action against open burning of bio-mass/leaves/tyres etc to control such activities and submit periodic status reports; Immediate
ii) Ensure proper collection of horticulture waste (bio-mass) and composting–cum-gardening approach; Immediate
iii) Ensure strict enforcement of ban on burning of agriculture waste and crop residues Immediate
iv) Prohibit use of coal in hotels and restaurants and eliminate use of kerosene for cooking in Delhi; 60 days

(D) Control of Industrial Air Pollution;

Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Ensure strict action against unauthorized brick kilns 30 days
ii) Ensure strict action against industrial units not complying with standards ; 60 days
iii) Enforce strict compliance of conversion of Natural draft brick kilns to induced-draft; 90 days
iv) Launch action plan for switching over to natural gas by industries, wherever feasible. 120 days

(E) Control of Air Pollution from Construction and Demolition Activities:
Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Control dust pollution at construction sites through appropriate cover Immediate
ii) Undertake control measures for fugitive emissions from material handling, conveying and screening operations through water sprinkling, curtains, barriers and dust suppression units; 30 days
iii) Ensure carriage of construction material in closed/covered vessels; 30 days

(F) Other Steps to control Air Pollution
Sl. No. Action Points Time Frame for implementation
i) Set-up helpline in States/UT for taking action against reported non-compliance; Immediate
ii) Evolve a system of reporting of garbage /municipal solid waste burning through mobile based applications and other social media platform linked with Central and State level Control Rooms ; 30 days
iii) Establish Standard Operating Procedure to provide quick and effective response to complaints 30 days
iv) Take steps for maximizing coverage of LPG / PNG for domestic cooking purposes with intention of achieving 100%; 90 days
v) Ensure DG sets meeting the standards only be allowed to operate 30 days
vi) Promote use of LPG instead of coal in restaurants/ dhabas/ road side eateries; 90 days
vii) Undertake Satellite based monitoring for tracking and enforcing agriculture waste burning; 90 days
viii) Take steps for setting up of bio-mass based power generation units to avoid bio-mass burning. One year

The State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) / Pollution Control Committee (PCC) shall acknowledge the receipt of this direction immediately and shall communicate the status of the implementation before 31st January 2016 supplemented with ambient air quality monitoring data being maintained by them. The SPCBs/PCC shall issue further directions to such authorities, as may be necessary, for implementation of these directions by 15th of January, 2016.