Air Quality Improves In Delhi, Parking Fee Hike Rolled Back, Truck Ban Lifted

The Supreme Court appointed pollution control body EPCA has announced that the ban on trucks, construction has been lifted and the four-fold hike in parking fee has been rolled back. The measures were taken after Delhi air pollution reached record levels last week.

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Air Quality Improves In Delhi, Parking Fee Hike Rolled Back, Truck Ban Lifted

Delhi air pollution: Doctors declared the city's spiking smog levels a "health emergency".


New Delhi:  The tough measures adopted to control air pollution in Delhi has been relaxed as the deadly smog choking Delhi for more than a week, loosened its grip. A top pollution control body has announced that the ban on trucks, construction has been lifted and the four-fold hike in parking fee has been rolled back with "immediate effect".

On Wednesday, the level of air pollution in Delhi was marked "very poor" instead of "severe" where it has been hovering for 10 days. Around 6 pm on Tuesday, the average level of PM 2.5 -- deadly particulate matter that has diameter less than 2.5mm -- was 351 units, down from over the 450-490 range but still 14 times the safe limit.

This morning, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority told Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana that the measures be lifted with "immediate effect" as the air quality as of now does not warrant such tough action.

The Delhi Traffic Police, however, contends that the ban imposed on trucks is indefinite. The ban, imposed last week after Delhi's air quality recorded "severe" levels of pollution gives an exemption only to trucks carrying essential items.

"We are watching the situation very carefully and we have been informed by the India Meteorological Department and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology that pollution may rise again because of increased moisture in the air in the coming days," wrote Bhure Lal, the chairperson to EPCA in his letter to the concerned states.

"However, if the conditions continue to improve and air quality stabilises, we will review the measures under the 'Severe' category and inform you accordingly," the letter read.

The measures were imposed last week as part of a graded response as Delhi woke to a smog blanket on November 6. Over the next few days, residents complained of watering eyes, headaches, dizziness and breathing problems.

As doctors declared it a "public health emergency", schools were shut down and the government advised people to venture out of doors only in need.

The Delhi government maintains that one of the chief causes of the pollution is stubble burning by farmers in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana. Yesterday, Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal met his Haryana counterpart ML Khattar to discuss how the winter smog can be controlled.

"We agreed upon the need for action on many measures aimed at predicting its re-occurrence in the winter of 2018," the two leaders said after a meeting.


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