Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain on Wednesday asked authorities to control local polluting factors such as garbage burning and dust, and warned of action against senior officials if they fail to comply with the directions.
The national capital recorded its second highest pollution level of the year on Sunday with an AQI of 450. The air quality remained 'severe' Monday and Tuesday before moving to the 'very poor' category Wednesday morning.
Mr Hussain urged the citizens of Delhi to minimise use of private vehicles and use public transport during this period.
He convened a high-level meeting to review the implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which was mandated by the Supreme Court to combat and mitigate air pollution in Delhi in view of the prevailing meteorological conditions in the whole of northern India.
He directed senior officers of municipal corporations to monitor mechanical sweeping of roads, including PWD roads, to prevent suspension and re-suspension of dust due to plying of vehicles.
Mr Hussain asked the municipal corporations to increase enforcement of directives regarding prohibition of permitting uncovered building material on their respective roads.
Mr Hussain directed all three MCDs to ensure control of instances of burning in the open and compliance with dust-control measures, failing which, senior officers should be held accountable.
They were also directed to ensure that during the period of ban on construction, no one indulges in such activities and that violators are strictly dealt with as per the law.
In view of the prevalence of 'severe' pollution in the national capital, industrial activities in pollution hotspots of Wazirpur, Mundka, Narela, Bawana, Sahibabad and Faridabad, and construction work across the Delhi-NCR were ordered to remain shut till Wednesday.
"Further, for effective control of dust, conditions stipulated in sanctioned building plan for construction of buildings must be strictly followed by the owners and builders," he said.
Mr Hussain directed that joint teams of officials from the Revenue Department, municipal corporations concerned and civil defence volunteers deputed in each of the districts for monitoring of construction activity and taking preventing and punitive action against the violators of Dust Control Norms may be continued for the time being.
He directed the Transport Department to continue enforcement action with more vigour in the coming weeks.
The minister told the commissioners of MCDs/PWD and Delhi Fire Services to undertake water sprinkling from high rise buildings, especially to settle suspended dust particles.
He asked all the stakeholder departments and agencies to remain prepared to take mandated actions under the 'very poor' and the 'severe/ severe plus' categories of air quality index in Delhi.
"There is a need to find long lasting solution to this problem," Mr Hussain added.
The authorities gave a presentation to Mr Hussain, saying the episodic pollution is controlled by meteorological conditions and cannot be effectively managed by only city-based control actions.
The meeting was attended by officials from the North, South and East MCDs, NDMC, Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Delhi Cantonment Board, Revenue Department, Environment and Forest Department, Public Works Department, Transport Department, Power Department, Industries Department and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) among others.