Air Quality Commission orders immediate closure of NCR industries not running on gas/ Cleaner fuels in industrial areas despite availability of gas infrastructure and supply
Despite the measures taken in different sectors towards improvement of air quality of Delhi-NCR, the air quality still remains in ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Severe’ category. Keeping in view the need to enforce strict actions against the deteriorating air quality of the region, the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) believes that there is an urgent need to take further preventive measures, as a matter of extreme emergency and abundant caution.

Taking a tough stand against the industries in industrial areas flouting the comprehensive policy directions for shifting of industries operating in NCR (National Capital Region) districts to PNG/ cleaner fuels the commission has issued directions for immediate closure of all such industries located in industrial areas where PNG infrastructure and supply are available but have still not switched over to PNG. As per the directions of the Commission, these violating industries/ industrial units will not be permitted to schedule their operations till 12.12.2021, and the position will be reviewed for further decisions.

In the Commission’s comprehensive policy Directions dated 12.08.2021 for shifting of industries operating in NCR Districts to PNG/ cleaner fuels, the State Governments of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) were directed to:
· audit and inspect the industries which are already connected to PNG supply and ensure that those industries are not using any other polluting fuels like coal etc.
· maintain strict vigil to prevent the use of unapproved fuels in the NCR, through the enforcement agencies concerned and take stringent action, in case of the defaulting units.
· prepare an implementable Action plan by clearly specifying definite time lines for switching over of all identified industries units to PNG, where infrastructure and supply of gas are already available.
· develop a time bound comprehensive action plan, in consultation with the authorized entities to supply gas in the industrial areas falling within the specified Geographical areas of NCR districts, for ensuring PNG and infrastructure supply in the remaining industrial areas.

As per the Commission’s Directions dated 16.11.2021 on steps for effective control of air pollution in the wake of prevailing air quality scenario in Delhi-NCR, all industries in the National Capital Region having gas connectivity shall be run only on gas, failing which industries concerned shall be closed.

It was also directed that all industries in NCR where gas connectivity is available shall immediately be shifted to gas and State Governments to furnish industry-wise date of shifting. Additionally, NCR State Governments and GNCTD were required to further set up effective enforcement mechanism including intensive and continuous drives by deputing adequate number of teams consisting of senior officers.

CAQM has also deputed Flying Squads for field visits and rigorous inspections of different sites contributing to deteriorating air quality of Delhi-NCR and reporting their compliance of the directions to the CAQM. The Commission has said that it is reviewing the progress on daily basis by holding the review meetings with the Flying Squads to take stock of the situation and take necessary punitive actions against the violators.

Every year the Delhi and the National Capital Region faces the brunt of air pollution. In 2020, due to lockdown, the air was cleaner. In 2021, all industries are running and traffic movement as well as constructions are going on at full pace. In view of this, the Commission on Air Quality Management should have had the foresight to understand that the air pollution will be at its peak in November and December. Hence the CAQM should have taken strict action at industries not using PNG despite the infrastructure to use gas being available. The level of particulate matter in the air is way above safe limits and it is impacting the health of people.