A slew of short and long-term measures including ban on entry of commercial vehicles not bound for Delhi, restriction on use of diesel generator sets during social functions, imposition of Rs.2,000 fine on polluting vehicles and expediting the construction of the eastern and western peripheral expressways and rapid increase in the public transport network have been suggested for ameliorating the air pollution situation in Delhi.

The issue of air pollution in Delhi was discussed threadbare on the eve of Diwali by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit with chairman of Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority Bhure Lal, director of Centre for Science and Environment Sunital Narain in the presence of Chief Secretary P. K. Tripathi, Commissioner (Transport) Rajendra Kumar and Secretary (Environment) Sanjeev Kumar among others.

At the meeting, Ms. Dikshit said in the wake of the recent smog, which had hung over Delhi for over a week, the Government has commissioned a study by IIT-Kanpur and the Meteorological Department to identify the reasons behind it. She said while there are certain natural causes, there are also the man-made ones which can be eliminated through strict implementation of the existing rules and incorporation of new provisions.

Mr. Bhure Lal and Dr. Narain while supporting the view of the Chief Minister stressed the need for taking both short and long-term measures for combating air pollution.

It was suggested that Delhi Government should crack down on gross polluting vehicles and should instruct the Transport Department and Delhi Police to impose a heavy on the spot fine of Rs.2,000 on them. A proposal to the effect is expected to be brought before the Delhi Cabinet soon. It was also suggested that the increased fine should at least be charged during the next three winter months.

The meeting also suggested banning entry of commercial vehicles not destined for Delhi into the Capital for curbing the pollution here. It was pointed out that the Supreme Court had issued directions in this regard earlier.

Thus, it was stated that Delhi should consider setting up check posts on its entry points on borders with the States of Haryana and U.P. It was also suggested that checking of all commercial vehicles should be undertaken at the check posts within the borders of U.P. and Haryana so that after due checking, the vehicles not destined for Delhi were not allowed to enter the Capital.

The meeting also called for strictly implementing the ban on burning leaves and garbage. Another suggestion related to discouraging the diesel generator sets during social functions. Further, the government was urged to explore the use of battery-operated LED lights during marriage processions as an option for doing away with the need for DG sets.

As for the long-term measures, the Chief Minister instructed the Environment Department to chalk out a detailed action plan in tune with its climate change agenda.

The issue of construction of Western Peripheral Expressway and Eastern Peripheral Expressway was also discussed. The Chairman (EPCA) told the Delhi Government to pressurise the neighbouring States and take up with the Centre the issue of delay in completion of these expressways as that was resulting in deterioration in air quality in Delhi.

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