NEW DELHI: Calm wind conditions, low temperatures and fog hampered the process of dispersion of pollutants, causing Delhi’s air quality to deteriorate to the higher end of ‘very poor’ category, with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 399, on Friday. It is likely to worsen to enter the ‘severe’ category. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has banned construction and demolition activities besides stopping the functioning of brick-kilns, hot-mix plants and stone crushers in Delhi-NCR. Mining activities too have been banned under stage III of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) with immediate effect.
The Delhi government’s transport department is likely to hold a meeting on Saturday to take a call on the plying of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel LMVs (four-wheelers). In its order issued on Friday, the commission said state governments in Delhi-NCR may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel LMVs (4-wheelers). Last time, after CAQM imposed ‘severe’ measures under stage III of GRAP on December 4, the transport department banned BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers on December 5. After improvement in air quality, CAQM revoked the restrictions on December 7.
Projects related to railways, metro rail services, airports and inter-state bus terminals; the ones related to national security and defence; projects of national importance; that of hospitals and other healthcare facilities; linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges; power transmission lines and pipelines; sanitation projects like sewage treatment plants; water supply projects; and ancillary activities specific to and supplementing the above categories of projects have all been exempted from the ban.
However, non-polluting and non-dust generating activities, including plumbing, interior decoration and electrical and carpentry related work, will be allowed.
The commission has banned industries running on non-clean fuels in industrial areas having PNG infrastructure and supply. However, industries running on non-clean fuels in industrial areas where PNG infrastructure and supply are unavailable will be allowed to operate for only five days a week till December 31. There will be a complete ban on units using non-clean fuels from January 1, 2023. Milk and dairy units and those involved in manufacturing of life-saving medical equipment/devices, drugs and medicines have been exempted from the restrictions.
Delhi’s AQI worsened from 306 on Thursday to 399 on Friday. It is likely to touch the ‘severe’ category (an AQI between 401 and 500) on Friday night. Experts said calm wind conditions, low temperatures, fog and stable atmospheric conditions hampered the process of dispersion of pollutants, causing air quality to suffer..
According to the Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the air quality is likely to remain in the ‘severe’ category on Saturday and Sunday. It may improve to ‘very poor’ on Monday. It is predicted to stay largely in the ‘very poor’ category for the subsequent six days from January 2.
“Delhi’s overall AQI has deteriorated over the past few hours and there is an increasing trend further in the coming days as per the air quality forecast of IMD/IITM. Actions under GRAP were invoked after significant deterioration in air quality of Delhi-NCR due to extreme unfavourable meteorological conditions,” said CAQM.
The commission has directed the implementing agencies to intensify frequency of mechanised and vacuum-based sweeping of roads, conduct daily water sprinkling along with use of dust suppressants and increase public transport services besides introducing differential rates to encourage off-peak travel.
People have been advised to choose a cleaner commute and work from home wherever possible. The commission has also asked house owners to provide electric heaters (during winter) to the security staff to avoid open burning.

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