No lessons learnt, GRAP roll­back be­gins in Cap­i­tal

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTMETRO - Sweta Goswami and Vibha Sharma htre­porters@htlive.com

CHOK­ING South body to drop hiked park­ing fees, am­bi­gu­ity over ban on en­try of trucks, con­struc­tion; fi­nal de­ci­sion to call off the emer­gency mea­sures rests with EPCA, say ex­perts

NEW DELHI: Just when Delhi’s air qual­ity showed signs of slight im­prove­ment on Tues­day, gov­ern­ment agen­cies got into a frenzy to get rid of emer­gency re­stric­tions put in place to clean up the city’s air.

The South Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion an­nounced on Tues­day that it would go back to its usual park­ing rates of ₹20 per hour for cars and ₹10 per hour for two-wheelers from Wed­nes­day.

This came de­spite the En­vi­ron­ment Pol­lu­tion (Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol) Au­thor­ity (EPCA) stat­ing that its Novem­ber 7 di­rec­tive to hike park­ing fees will con­tinue “un­til fur­ther or­ders”.

Un­der the Graded Re­sponse Ac­tion Plan (GRAP), agen­cies have to in­crease park­ing rates four-fold when­ever pol­lu­tion lev­els en­ter the “very poor” zone. Other ac­tion in­clude a ban on diesel gen­er­a­tors, con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and the en­try of trucks into the city.

Buses and the Metro have to en­sure ex­tra trips to en­cour­age peo­ple to ditch pri­vate ve­hi­cles.

The de­ci­sion to call off the emer­gency mea­sures rests with EPCA.

“Agen­cies can­not lift any di­rec­tive with­out fresh or­ders be­ing is­sued by the pol­lu­tion panel,” said Su­nita Narain, EPCA mem­ber.

The SDMC’S de­ci­sion on park­ing was taken af­ter the mat­ter was taken up dur­ing its stand­ing com­mit­tee meet­ing on Mon­day. The civic agency, it turns out, as­sumed that the park­ing fee di­rec­tive was for seven days only.

“The di­rec­tions were is­sued by the EPCA for a week. The pe­riod will get over on Wed­nes­day night. From then, con­trac­tors would charge nor­mal fees from cus­tomers. We are likely to is­sue a no­tice in this re­gard on Wed­nes­day,” said Ka­mal­jeet Sehrawat, mayor, SDMC.

The cor­po­ra­tion’s com­mis­sioner Puneet Goel said the in­creased park­ing rates will be with­drawn in the next two days.

But the north and east Delhi mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions have planned to con­tinue with the di­rec­tions till fur­ther or­ders.

CON­FU­SION OVER EN­TRY OF TRUCKS

Not just park­ing, even the Delhi gov­ern­ment ap­peared to be con­fused over the ban on en­try of trucks.

Fol­low­ing EPCA’S di­rec­tions, the trans­port depart­ment had banned the en­try of trucks into the Cap­i­tal on Novem­ber 9. But it did so only for a pe­riod of three days.

Af­ter al­low­ing more than a lakh trucks to en­ter Delhi and fac­ing flak from EPCA, the trans­port depart­ment went into a hud­dle to is­sue a fresh no­ti­fi­ca­tion on Tues­day.

It has now banned en­try of trucks, ex­cept those car­ry­ing es­sen­tial com­modi­ties, from Tues­day night “in­def­i­nitely.

BAN ON CON­STRUC­TION AC­TIV­I­TIES

A num­ber of agen­cies ap­peared to be puz­zled as to whose de­ci­sion they were bound to fol­low over the con­struc­tion ban.

The North Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion said it was fol­low­ing the or­ders of the L-G, who had con­vened a high-level meet­ing on Novem­ber 8, order.

“We will lift the ban on con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity once the air qual­ity im­proves in a day or two. I don’t think we need any­body’s con­fir­ma­tion for that,” said Ti­lak Raj Kataria, stand­ing com­mit­tee chair­man, North Delhi Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion.

On the con­trary, the east cor­po­ra­tion claimed it was bound by the or­ders of the Na­tional Green Tri­bunal. “We have a NGT hear­ing sched­uled for Thurs­day. Till then all its in­terim or­ders will con­tinue,” an of­fi­cial said.

EPCA TO MEET STAKE­HOLD­ERS

Even as stake­hold­ers are stuck over ju­ris­dic­tional for­mal­i­ties and roll­back modal­i­ties, EPCA mem­ber Su­nita Narain said the panel would meet stake­hold­ers to clear con­fu­sion.

“I have spo­ken to the south cor­po­ra­tion and I am go­ing to speak to all other agen­cies to­mor­row,” she said.

Ex­plain­ing the plan, Narain told Hin­dus­tan Times that it would is­sue fresh di­rec­tions, if any, only if air qual­ity re­mains nearly the same for 48 hours.

BURHAAN KINU/HT PHOTO

The air qual­ity in Delhi had been hov­er­ing in the ‘se­vere’ cat­e­gory in the last seven days, putting peo­ple of the Cap­i­tal at ma­jor health risk.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.