Air quality body directs Delhi, nearby States to video monitor construction projects

Directive will enable authorities to oversee compliance ‘round the clock’

Construction projects in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) and adjoining States will have to install equipment that will allow the authorities to monitor if the projects are complying with norms to curb air pollution, according to a directive by the Commission for Air Quality and Management (CAQM).

The CAQM is an executive body set up to oversee measures to curb air pollution in the Delhi NCR, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

In a directive on Thursday, the CAQM said that all the projects (on plot area equal to or greater than 500 square meters) of construction and demolition under the territorial jurisdiction of Urban Local Bodies in the NCR would have to mandatorily register themselves at a dedicated web portal.

Those involved in construction activities also have to ensure “video fencing”, meaning that they would have to set up cameras on site, with streaming that can be viewed via the web portal. It would thus be possible for authorities to monitor compliance “round the clock”. They would also have to install reliable and low-cost PM2.5 and PM10 sensors at the Construction and Demolition (C&D) project sites.

“This technological shift will not only help the project proponents to self-audit and certify compliance of stipulated dust control measures but also strengthen monitoring of dust control measures at C&D sites. The project proponents are also expected to upload the self-declaration on a fortnightly basis. Further, directions have been issued to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and other State Pollution Control Boards (SPCB) of National Capital Region to strictly monitor compliance of dust mitigation measures by project proponents,” the CAQM said in a statement.

The list of dust control/ mitigation measures includes the use of anti-smog guns, water pills, water cannons, hoses, fire hydrants, and sprinklers to contain pollutant particles.

With the monsoon drawing to a close and wind patterns expected to change, Delhi and other cities in the Indo-Gangetic plains are preparing to grapple with their annual bouts of severe air pollution. Road dust and dust from C&D reportedly contribute a third of particulate matter pollution in Delhi, according to an analysis by The Energy Resources Institute in 2018.

Delhi and several cities in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana routinely feature on the lists of the most polluted cities in the world. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) in its first-ever update since 2005 has tightened global air pollution standards in a recognition of the emerging science in the last decade that the impact of air pollution on health is much more serious than earlier envisaged.

The government has a dedicated National Clean Air Programme that aims for a 20% to 30% reduction in particulate matter concentrations by 2024 in 122 cities, keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. These are cities that don’t meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards when calculated from 2011-2015.

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