With air quality in the Delhi-NCR region turning "very poor" ahead of Diwali, the Supreme Court-mandated EPCA on Friday said construction activities in the national capital and satellite towns will be banned between 6 pm and 6 am from October 26 to 30.
In a letter to chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal also issued directions to close down coal-based industries, barring power plants, in satellite towns of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Sonepat and Bahadurgarh during the period.
The ban follows a slew of recommendations from a 10-member anti-pollution task force led by Central Pollution Control Board's Member Secretary Prashant Gargava.
"In Delhi, industries which have not yet shifted to piped natural gas to remain closed from October 26 to 30," the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) chairman directed.
He also asked all implementing agencies to take strict action to check stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, and ensure enforcement of the Supreme Court's directions regarding firecrackers and impound "visibly" polluting vehicles.
"Hot mix plants, stone crushers and construction activities, such as earthwork, which have potential to generate dust to be banned between 6 pm and 6 am from October 26 to 30 in Delhi and satellite towns namely Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, Sonepat and Bahadurgarh," he said in the letter.
The EPCA ordered the Delhi Traffic Police and adjacent NCR towns to deploy additional manpower to ensure smooth movement of vehicles in all areas, especially the identified high-traffic corridors in the national capital.
It also directed that the district administrations of Delhi-NCR ensure zero-tolerance towards operation of illegal industries and use of unauthorised fuel.
All these measures are part of the CPCB-formulated Graded Response Action Plan, which lists stricter anti-pollution measures to be followed according to the severity of the situation.
"According to the task force's assessment, the air quality situation during the next few days due to festival, meteorology, stubble burning is expected to be challenging," the EPCA chairman said.
Two days before Diwali, the national capital's air quality dropped to season's worst on Friday, with the decreased wind speed leading to accumulation of pollutants and affecting dispersion.
The city's overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 315 at 8:30 am on Friday, while it was 311 on Thursday evening.
Most of the places in the national capital recorded the AQI in the "very poor" category, while the situation inched towards "severe" in some areas.