Coal plants to shut for a fortnight from january 15.
New Delhi: Air pollution levels soared in the capital on Thursday prompting the Supreme Court-mandated EPCA to write to the states to gear up for another round of action under the ‘emergency’ category.
Also, a CPCB-led taskforce recommended the closure of all coal-based industries operating in Delhi-NCR for a fortnight from January 15 to contain air pollution during the upcoming ASEAN summit, to begin in Delhi from January 19 next.
If the EPCA notifies the emergency action plan, measures including a ban on entry of trucks, construction activities and a return of the odd-even scheme may have to be enforced in the city. Such a plan was enforced during the smog episode in November
A taskforce, formed under the Centre-notified Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), made the recommendation to the EPCA as part of a series of proposals in the light of pollution touching 'emergency' levels again. In his letter to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Bhure Lal, chairperson, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, has directed the states to intensify a ground-level action to tackle the dreaded haze that has shrouded the region.
At 1 pm on Thursday, concentration of PM2.5 was 320.9 microgram per cubic metre (ug/m3), while PM10 was 496 ug/m3, four units short of the emergency limit of 500 ug/m3.
Under the Centre-notified Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), pollution is considered severe plus or emergency when readings of ultrafine particulates PM2.5 or PM10 are above 300 and 500 ug/m3 respectively.
Health expert T.K. Joshi, a member of the taskforce, said the recommendation to close coal-based thermal power plants in the region was on the table, but a decision was the put off for the time.
“It may lead to a power crisis and may trigger a large-scale use of diesel-generator sets which are banned. We are constantly reviewing the situation,” he added.