SC panel mulls industries ban in NCR hotspots during 'severe' air quality
SC panel mulls industries ban in NCR hotspots during 'severe' air quality

New Delhi: The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority has said it is seriously considering banning industrial, construction and demolition activities at major pollution hotspots in Delhi-NCR when air quality levels reach 'severe' category.

The task force led by the Central Pollution Control Board on November 22 recommended to the EPCA that industrial, construction and demolition activities should be banned in major hotspot areas when air quality levels reach 'severe' category.

In a meeting on Friday with various oil and gas companies, such as Adani gas, Haryana City Gas, IGL and GAIL, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal lashed out at them asking the reason for not being able to switch to cleaner sources of energy for their operations.

"We are seriously considering a proposal from the CPCB to shut down industries in the area where the pollution reaches severe," EPCA member Sunita Narain said, adding, "The authority will write to industries asking for a breakup of their pricing of piped natural gas and what are the terms on which they supply it to the consumers."

The representatives of the firms contended that switching to electricity or gas is proving to be expensive in comparison to coal.

Narain said, "We will keep pushing for switching to gas as there is no other option. We will also push the government to reduce VAT to make it cheaper by 20 per cent for industries."

On December 4, the CPCB task force identified 21 areas vulnerable to high pollution in Delhi-NCR and directed the respective municipal corporations to take "focussed actions" to mitigate the affects.

It has also asked the authorities to carry out inspection at Loni Bhopura in Ghaziabad, from where repeated complaints of violations of environmental norms have been received, according to the minutes of a meeting of the task force held in Delhi.

The task force has identified 15 pollution hotspots in Delhi. They are Anand Vihar, Bawana, CRRI Mathura Road, DTU, Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, Dwarka-Sector 8, Jahangirpuri, Mundaka, NSIT Dwarka, Narela, Okhla Phase-2, R.K. Puram, Rohini, Shadipur and Wazirpur.

In NCR areas outside Delhi, six hotspots have been identified. They are Sector-16A in Faridabad, Vikas Sadan in Gurgaon, Vasundhara in Ghaziabad, Knowledge Park-III in Greater Noida, Sector-125 in Noida and RIICO Industrial Area-III in Bhiwadi.

Lal said last week, the EPCA sealed 140 units that were dealing in tar oil, rubber oil and synthetic engine oil, but another issue is that the sealed units shift to different parts of the city and continue their operations.

The EPCA chairperson also said that he would inspect burning of industrial waste in Mundka and penalise the entities responsible for it.

Delhi has been battling alarming levels of pollution for nearly two months with the air quality hovering between "very poor" and "severe", and slipping into "poor" on better days.

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