Lifting Curbs to Check Pollution Hasty Decision, Say Experts

Revoking curbs imposed in Delhi-NCR under the final stage of an action plan to combat air pollution could prove to be a hasty decision, experts said on Sunday and advised caution.

Their reaction came after the Centre’s air quality panel directed authorities on Sunday to lift the ban on plying of non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles in Delhi-NCR and entry of trucks into the capital imposed under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The restrictions were imposed three days ago.

A decision on reopening primary schools and revocation of the order asking 50 per cent of government staff to work from home is likely to be taken at a high-level meeting to be chaired by Delhi Environment minister Gopal Rai on Monday, an official said.

Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha said it could be too soon to revoke curbs as the air quality has improved a wee bit due to favourable wind speed and will go back to the ‘severe’ category in a couple of days.

“These are knee jerk reactions and should be avoided. It is too soon to do away with the restrictions. The government should instead analyse the situation and bide some time before revoking the curbs because this situation will be there for a long time,” he added.

Concurring with him, environmentalist Jyoti Pande said the government has been undertaking fire-fighting measures instead of controlling emissions and the sources of pollution.

“Every year, the GRAP comes in and curbs are implemented. GRAP is a fire-fighting exercise,” she said.

Pande has left Delhi due to the toxic air and said it is painful for her to leave the city while leaving her friends and extended family behind.

With a call on reopening of schools expected to be taken on Monday, parents also urged the government ti take steps to ensure that children do not face learning losses.

Aparajita Gautam, president of Delhi Parents’ Association asked how long will the children face this uncertainty.

“What will the parents do? I am ready to send my child to school if the air quality improves but instead of working to curb pollution now, the government should take year-long measures to reduce it. When the air quality has entered the severe category, we had demanded school closure,” she said.

Tanya Aggarwal, a lawyer and a mother, also inquired whether the government will revoke school closure order.

“Hi @ArvindKejriwal – if @CAQM_Official has lifted stage IV, is @Dir_Education revoking school closure order? Or will schools remain closed while trucks & diesel cars return and comm’l activity resumes? Ever thought about fixing sources of #AirPollution instead of only reacting?” she tweeted.

“As the present AQI level of Delhi is around 339 which is about 111 AQI points below the threshold for invoking the GRAP Stage-IV actions (Delhi AQI > 450) and preventive/ mitigative/ restrictive actions under all stages up to Stage-IV are underway, there is a likelihood of sustaining the improvement in AQI. “The forecast by IMD/ IITM also does not indicate any steep degradation further,” an order from the Commission for Air Quality Management read.

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