Gasping Delhi: Ban on private vehicles possible if air quality worsens, says EPCA chief

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In a frantic effort to control worsening air pollution in the Delhi-NCR, a senior official on Tuesday said if things go beyond control, a ban on private vehicles in Delhi may be in the offing.On Tuesday, Delhi’s air quality reached the ‘severe’ level for the first time this season. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city was measured at 401. The AQI essentially tells you the level of pollution in the air in a given city on a given day.”Let us hope the air pollution situation in Delhi doesn’t deteriorate but if it turns out to be an emergency, we will have to stop the use of private transport,” said Bhure Lal, chairperson of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). EPCA is a Supreme Court appointed committee to check pollution.He said any decision in this regards will be taken after the advice from a committee.

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Toxic smog has started to envelope vast swathes of northern India, including New Delhi, as it does each year when winter approaches and farmers burn off the residue of crops. Crop stubble burning, a major source of pollution, vehicular exhaust and a drop-off in wind speeds have aggravated the smog in Delhi. This will worsen by November 7 as the country celebrates Diwali.Speaking to India Today TV, Bhure said a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has already set in. GRAP is a plan prepared by the EPCA and it lists various pollution-combating measures that must be undertaken. The measures become more stringent as the air pollution in Delhi rises.

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Bhure said guidelines have already been issued to stop construction activities, use of diesel generators, operations of stone crushers, burning waste in the open and sprinkling water on roads before cleaning them.”If the situation goes out of control, we will have to ban private transport and promote use of public transport. We have also spoken to the governments in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and have asked them to deploy guards to see pollution norms are not flouted,” Bhure said.IndiaToday.in will be tracking stubble burning instances and Delhi-NCR’s air quality on a daily basis. Check our Air Quality page for the latest on this topic.

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