Nearly a week after the Arvind Kejriwal government imposed several measures to improve the Air Quality Index in Delhi, Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday announced the lifting of the blanket ban on construction and demolition activities in the capital. The minister cited an improvement in air quality and inconvenience caused to workers as the reasons behind the withdrawal of the order.
Rai also said the government will take a call on the reopening of schools, colleges and other educational institutions and work-from-home for government staff during a review meeting on Wednesday.
"We will also discuss if CNG-operated trucks carrying non-essential items can be allowed to enter Delhi if the situation continues to improve," he said.
The Delhi government on Sunday night extended the ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items and work-from-home for its employees till November 26 to combat air pollution and minimise its health effects.
"For some time, the air quality index remained above the 600--mark. However, steps taken to contain air pollution and change in the wind pattern have resulted in a gradual decline in air pollution levels," he said.
"In view of the improvement in the air quality and inconvenience caused to workers, we have decided to lift the ban on construction and demolition activities. However, the government will continue to monitor the implementation of dust control measures by all agencies," Rai said at a press conference.
He said 585 monitoring teams have been working to ensure compliance with directions.
"If any agency is found violating dust control norms, the government will stop work and impose a penalty without notice," Rai warned.
The minister said the government has hired 1,000 private CNG-operated buses to augment public transport. These will have "Prayavaran Bus Sewa" written on them and people can travel on them like DTC buses.
Strong surface winds gusting up to 30 kilometres per hour barrelled through the capital on Monday, dispersing pollutants and improving the air quality. Delhi's Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 307 at 1 pm, down from 349 at 4 pm on Sunday.
(With PTI inputs)