Ban on night construction in Delhi to be lifted soon after air quality improves

Some of the major construction projects in the national capital that were hit because of a ban on construction activities at night imposed in November 2018 to fight severe levels of pollution, could soon get a fresh lease of life. With the peak pollution period coming to an end, authorities said that the ban would be lifted soon.

The Supreme Court-appointed body Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which monitors the implementation of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), said a decision to lift the ban would be taken soon as air quality has improved. On Thursday the AQI was recorded to be 266, the “poor” category.

“All anti-pollution measures to fight very poor and severe levels of air have been lifted except for ban on construction at night. We have asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to review the situation so that the ban could be lifted,” said Sunita Narain, member of EPCA.

EPCA had banned nighttime construction in Delhi on November 12, 2018 when air started deteriorating. No such ban was, however, imposed in the NCR.

Officials of Delhi’s Public Works Department (PWD), which is constructing some of the city’s important projects such as tunnel at Pragati Maidan, Barapulla phase-3 and a 2.7 km long elevated road parallel to an existing flyover on Rao Tula Ram Marg, said that the ban between 11 pm to 6 am had affected it.

“Major constructions are conducted during night time. Due to heavy traffic during day time, it is not possible to bring heavy building material including iron bars, concrete mixture, slabs, girders to the main site from the plant site,” a PWD official said.

A senior official of the National Highway Authority of India said that as most of their projects were in NCR, they were hardly hit.

Since October 15, 2018, Delhi encountered at least five episodes when pollution hit the emergency levels. But despite the alarming levels of pollution, some measures such as hiking parking fees and introducing odd-even car restriction scheme could not be enforced. This was for the first time that certain restrictions such as ban on entry of trucks and ban on construction and industrial activities were introduced as pre-emptive measures.

“Even though construction activities were banned for a period of around 12 days during the first week of November, the ban was later lifted and imposed only at night on the recommendations of a multi agency task force headed by the CPCB,” said a senior official of the CPCB.

During summer and monsoon when pollution remains in moderate and poor levels, GRAP measures such as controlling garbage burning and landfill fires and mechanised sweeping of roads are enforced. “The focus should now be more on implementation of the Comprehensive Action Plan which targets to bring in systemic changes rather than the GRAP” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director (Research and Advocacy) at Centre for Science and Environment.

First Published:
Mar 15, 2019 10:32 IST

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