Slight improvement in AQI: Govt lifts construction ban, to take call on school reopening tomorrow

Delhi’s 24-hour average AQI was recorded as 311 on Monday, down from 349 on Sunday, but still in the very poor category.

The ban on construction and demolition put in place last week because of high pollution levels was lifted by the Delhi government on Monday.

Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the measures introduced last week, including shutting schools, ordering half of all state government employees to work from home, and a ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items in the city — along with an increase in wind speed — had been instrumental in lowering pollution levels.

Delhi’s 24-hour average AQI was recorded as 311 on Monday, down from 349 on Sunday, but still in the very poor category.

“Considering the difficulties faced by workers due to the closure of construction work, the ban has been lifted. But strict monitoring will continue by 585 teams and immediate action will be taken against violators of the 14-point anti-dust pollution measures,” Rai said.

“Compared to yesterday, the pollution levels have significantly gone down — the AQI at 10 am at Anand Vihar went from 430 yesterday to 329 today, with a difference of 101 points. Ashok Vihar’s AQI reduced from 394 yesterday at 10 am, to 309 reported at the same time today,” he added.

Delhi has a 14-point guideline to control dust pollution at construction sites. This includes actions like mounting tin walls, sprinkling water to help settle dust, and installing anti-smog guns at big construction sites.

“Strict monitoring will continue at all construction and demolition sites — be it a government project, private company or individual construction. The 14-point guidelines that we have in place to tackle dust pollution will be imposed on all agencies running their construction projects in Delhi… If a construction project is found violating any of the 14-point guidelines… work will be shut down without notice. An immediate penalty will be issued on the agency responsible and the notice procedure will take place later,” Rai said.

Schools, however, will remain shut for now and state government officials will continue working from home till at least November 26. Entry of trucks is also being regulated.

A meeting to review these decisions will be taken on Wednesday, he said. “If the condition continues improving, we will give entry to the CNG trucks, which will be announced by November 24 itself. Schools, colleges, institutes, training centres and others had been ordered to remain shut until further notice. However, keeping the current improvements in mind and watching the trends closely, we will reevaluate this and discuss opening of schools and colleges on the 24th as well,” he said.

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