The Badarpur thermal power plant will remain closed till March and operation of diesel generator sets are banned with immediate effect, the Supreme Court-constituted Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) said keeping in mind the worsening air quality in the Capital.
This is the first winter since the body — comprising environmentalists, scientists and members of State and Central pollution control boards — came into force.
The authority has the power to recommend a wide range of curbs — from restricting trucks and straitjacketing passenger-car movement, to shutting down schools — depending on the level of pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Delhi’s air quality has reached the ‘Very Poor’ category and steps were necessary to prevent severe levels of pollution like those witnessed in November last year, said EPCA member Sunita Narain.
AQI at ‘very poor’
“Diesel gensets have been banned only in Delhi and not in the remaining NCR… these measures will have to be implemented by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee,” said A. Sudhakar, of the Central Pollution Control Board and an EPCA member, adding: “The Badarpur power plant will be shut as of today”.
Mr. Sudhakar said that the ban on diesel gensets could be lifted if the EPCA — in it’s weekly review meetings — felt that air quality had improved.
On Tuesday, two days before Diwali, the air quality index (AQI) — a composite number indicating levels of various pollutants — in Delhi was above 250, which falls under the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ category.
The EPCA expects Diwali to be particularly toxic even though forecast agencies such as SAFAR have said that prevailing meteorological conditions and the ban on firecracker sale in the Capital could have some sort of a mitigating effect.