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Gurugram scrambles to fight ‘very poor’ air

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The city on Friday witnessed the highest pollution level of this winter with an air quality index (AQI) of 367, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) daily bulletin, which had the district administration and other civic agencies scrambling to take pollution abatement measures.

The Delhi-Gurugram expressway in smoggy weather at Iffco Chowk flyover on Friday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
The Delhi-Gurugram expressway in smoggy weather at Iffco Chowk flyover on Friday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

The district administration on Friday warned that criminal action will be taken against those engaged in waste burning, carrying out construction activities, or selling polluting firecrackers. It had also decided to deploy water sprinklers and anti-smog guns across the city in large numbers for dust mitigation.

Deputy commissioner Nishant Yadav directed that mechanised sweeping should be carried out by agencies to reduce dust pollution.

Addressing the media after holding a meeting with district officials, Yadav said they have decided to deploy 100 fire engines to sprinkle water on city roads and vacant spaces to curb dust pollution. “We have decided to deploy fire engines, anti-smog guns available with MCG, GMDA and other agencies to curb pollution. Also, there will be added focus on mechanised sweeping. These measures will start from Saturday morning. It has also been decided that construction activities will be stopped at all licensed and unlicensed colonies until further orders and FIRs will be registered against violators,” he said.

The city on Friday was blanketed by haze from early morning, leading to low visibility conditions throughout the day. The average AQI was 367, according to the CPCB daily bulletin, which was in the “very poor” category. The AQI at Gwal Pahari was 466, while it was 357 in Vikas Sadan, 363 in Teri Gram, and 300 in Sector 51.

According to CPCB, Gurugram saw the season’s highest AQI on Friday (367) while it was 297 on Thursday, 236 on Wednesday, 254 on Tuesday and 203 on Monday.

Despite the spike in pollution levels, Gurugram fared better when compared to neighbouring Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad that saw AQI readings in the “severe” category (400+) on Friday.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Gurugram recorded a minimum temperature of 17.7 degrees Celsius and a maximum temperature of 29.2 degrees Celsius on Friday.

The IMD said the temperature is likely to drop further in the coming days and the wind speed will also be on lower side, which will prevent the dispersal of pollutants near the surface.

Taking into account the rising pollution, DC Yadav said directions have been given to the town and country planning department to ensure that all construction material at project sites are covered and water is sprinkled on them regularly. “We have appointed duty magistrates to keep a close watch on polluting activities and take strict action. I appeal to the people to follow rules and suggestions given by Commission for Air Quality Management and the district administration to prevent further pollution,” he said.

In order to prevent the sale and burning of illegal firecrackers for Diwali, Yadav said instructions have been given to officials to allow only green or eco-friendly fireworks. “All subdivisional magistrates and the police have been directed to conduct inspections on firecracker godowns and prevent the sale of contraband fireworks,” he said.

The DC further said with stage 3 of the graded response action plan in force since Thursday, the use of diesel generator sets is only allowed for emergency services, and to stop their illegal use, directions have been issued to power discoms to keep a close watch on industrial units and condominiums.

Yadav asked people to refrain from waste burning, and also directed the police and other agencies to initiate criminal proceedings against violators. “FIRs will be registered in such cases and strict action taken,” he said.

Yadav also said during the meeting that if there is a complaint of garbage burning from a local body area (Municipal Corporation Gurugram, Municipal Corporation Manesar, Municipal Council Sohna, Municipal Council Pataudi- Haily Mandi and Municipality Farrukhnagar), then the officer concerned should be held responsible and action will be taken against him/her.

When asked whether primary schools will be closed due to rising pollution on the lines of neighbouring Delhi, the DC said a decision in this regard will be taken based on pollution levels in the coming days.

As far as stopping polluting vehicles is concerned, Yadav said a detailed discussion has been held with the transport department, and a set of instructions will be issued soon. “The issue is under active consideration and we are working to resolve it. Our primary objective at this time is to start sprinkling water on roads, at project sites and using anti-smog guns to reduce pollutants,” he said.

Kuldeep Singh, regional officer, Haryana State Pollution Control Board said five teams have been constituted by the board to take action against violators. “Our teams have started inspecting industrial units and other sites,” he said.

Manish Yadav, district town planner, said on Friday five notices were issued to owners of construction sites for violations. “We have made it clear to owners that construction will not be allowed until further orders,” he said.

MCG, joint commissioner, Naresh Kumar said they have started mechanised sweeping in several areas and have also imposed fines amounting to 5.92 lakh on violators in 144 instances. “We appeal to the people to stop waste burning and other such activities. City residents can call on the MCG helpline –18001801817 –to report any violation,” he said.

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