NEW DELHI: The thick blanket of smog covering the national capital and neighbouring regions kept the alarm bells ringing on Wednesday. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain held an emergency meeting in the evening to discuss urgent measures to contain the pollution.
In the meeting, the measures proposed by the Environment Pollution Prevention & Control Authority (EPCA) — hiking of parking fees by four times in Delhi, stopping of all construction activity, no entry of trucks (except essentials), shutdown of schools for a week, increasing the frequency of public transport and introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme — were given a go-ahead.
Earlier, Kejriwal wrote to the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana requesting a meeting to discuss crop burning which, according to the Delhi government, is a major reason for the “severe plus” air quality in Delhi. Many NGOs conducted awareness programs and distributed masks to passersby on roads.
Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain told Express: “The DDA and other agencies are very much responsible for the situation that we are in now. Time and again, we have called meetings and expressed our concern over leaf burning, but they don’t take any action. The respective chief ministers also did not take part in the meeting we held last month over air pollution, they did not even send in their representatives.”
On a direction from the Union Urban Affairs Ministry, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) decided to run extra trips of metro trains on all routes and increase its frequency. Officials said the DMRC would run 3,317 train trips from Thursday, an increase of 186 trips to accommodate more passengers. Ministry officials said DMRC had also been directed to ensure deployment of additional ticketing operators and customer facilitation agents. Twenty new ambient air quality stations will be set up across the national capital, taking the total count to 34.