PMO panel asks NCR states, agencies to intensify anti-pollution measures

NEW DELHI: A PMO-led panel has directed implementing agencies and National Capital Region (NCR) states to intensify anti-pollution measures up to mid November so that there is immediate impact on air quality, according to officials.

The high-level task force led by the principal secretary to the Prime Minister held a meeting on Thursday to analyse factors contributing to the deterioration of air quality in the last week of October, the situation in the run up to Diwali and till mid November.

It also reviewed the measures being taken by various agencies to control dust emission in the Delhi-NCR region, a Delhi government official who attended the meeting said.

Secretaries of central ministries concerned, Delhi’s chief secretary, Central Pollution Control Board chairman, senior officers of Punjab and Haryana, and municipal commissioners of Delhi attended the meeting, the official said.

“After assessing the overall situation, particularly since crop burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana are being reported in significant numbers, the principal secretary to the prime minister issued a number of directions to intensify action being taken on the ground up to mid November so that there is immediate impact on air quality,” he said.

Two days before Diwali, the national capital’s air quality dropped to the season’s worst on Friday, with the decreased wind speed leading to accumulation of pollutants and affecting dispersion.

The city’s overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 315 at 8:30am on Friday, while it was 311 on Thursday evening.

Most of the places in the national capital recorded the AQI in the “very poor” category, while the situation inched towards “severe” in some areas.

The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority also banned construction work at night in Delhi-NCR from October 26 to 30 and closure of industries that have not switched to piped natural gas.