The Supreme-Court appointed EPCA also allowed entry of only those vehicles into the city which are stranded at Delhi borders, anticipating the situation getting out of hand with the owners of over a 1,000 trucks getting “restive”, while asserting that they will be exempt from paying toll or Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) from 11 pm on November 12 to 7 am on November 13.
They said by relaxing the payment of toll-ECC, the trucks can move without any stop and this will reduce congestion and reduce pollution.
The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), however stated that “no new trucks” will be allowed to enter the national capital in the wake of the deteriorating air quality.
The ban on entry of heavy vehicles was imposed from November 8 till November 11 but was later extended by a day by the Supreme Court-appointed agency on the recommendations of a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-led task force, which reviews the national capital’s air quality.
According to the CPCB, the overall air quality index (AQI) in the national capital was recorded at 406 which falls in the severe category.
The PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) level on Monday was recorded at 263 while the PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) was recorded at 457.
Nineteen areas in Delhi recorded severe air quality while 17 areas showed very poor air quality, the CPCB said, adding Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Greater Noida and Noida recorded severe air quality while Gurgaon showed improvement with the AQI being in the moderate category.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.
Satellite images by Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) showed moderate stubble burning fire count that is contributing to seven per cent pollution at PM2.5 in Delhi. Authorities have attributed the dip in air quality to unfavourable weather conditions such as low wind speed.
SAFAR said the situation is likely to improve further by Tuesday but will remain in very poor category.
“The stubble-related impact continue to remain nominal due to slow transport height winds,” it said.
EPCA chairman Bhure Lal in a letter to the joint commissioner of police (traffic) said all trucks at the border of the national capital will be allowed to enter the city, but will not be asked to halt and pay toll or Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) from 11 pm on November 12 to 7 am on November 13.
“By relaxing the payment of toll-ECC, the trucks can move without any stop and this will reduce congestion and reduce pollution. The SDMC is directed to issue the necessary orders so that no ECC or Toll is collected for this limited period,” the letter said.
He, however, also said that “no new trucks will be allowed entry” in the city and the Delhi Police will increase their manpower at all entry points to ensure that there is no congestion.
“We will continue this restriction so that there is large scale diversion of trucks on the Western and Eastern Expressways and other roads,” the letter stated.
Meanwhile, the CPCB-led task force on Monday said heavy vehicles and construction activities will be allowed in Delhi only between 6 AM and 6 PM to avoid poor dispersion of pollutants at night.
The task force comprising members of the CPCB, the Delhi Pollution Control Board and the Haryana Pollution Control Board among others, made the recommendations in view of poor dispersion of pollutants, low temperatures and high humidity during night.
It also directed the enforcement agencies to keep a strict vigil and ensure firm action against the violators.