Fight against pollution in city takes a hit

The quality of water of Yamuna, along the Delhi stretch, has improved during the nationwide lockdown and so has the air quality. However, multiple projects by the Delhi government to control and detect air, water, and noise pollution in the city have been delayed and many have missed deadlines, according to officials.

The projects that have been either delayed or missed the deadlines are construction of a smog tower in the city to reduce air pollution, installation of 26 noise monitoring stations, and multiple works by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) to treat sewer flowing into the Yamuna.

Smog tower

To control air pollution, the Supreme Court on January 13 had ordered the Delhi government to build a ‘smog tower’ by April 13. But construction work is yet to start, according to officials.

“A piece of land for the construction of the smog tower has been identified and now an MoU will be signed with IIT Bombay for the construction. It will take about nine months after signing the document to complete the project,” a Delhi government official said.

Lockdown due to COVID-19 has affected the progress of the work, officials said. Multiple projects being done by the DJB to reduce pollution in the Yamuna have been affected too.

The Interceptor Sewer Project (ISP), which has been in the pipeline since 2006 and delayed multiple times, has missed yet another deadline of March 31, 2020.

Sewage treatment

Currently, 35% of the sewage generated in the city is not being treated and a large part of it ends up in the Yamuna. About 748 MGD (million gallons per day) of sewage is generated in the city every day and only 490 MGD is treated, according to official data.

The ISP is termed as a “flagship project” for containment of sewage in 108 drains flowing into the Najafgarh drain.

Twenty-two drains, including Najafgarh drain, which flow into the Yamuna is a major cause of pollution of the river.

According to a monitoring committee appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the DJB has to commission the Coronation Pillar Sewage Treatment Plan (STP) by July 31, 2020, and complete all STPs by December 31, 2020.

“We will now start works, but getting labourers will be a problem. Also, funds might become a problem. It won’t be possible to stick to the deadlines,” a government official said.

The DJB is likely to send revised deadlines to the monitoring committee, according to officials. But there is no clarity on these deadlines at the moment. When contacted, DJB CEO Nikhil Kumar did not offer a comment.

To monitor noise pollution, the NGT had ordered the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to set up “sufficient” noise monitoring stations by January 31, 2020.

Following this, the Delhi government invited tender for setting up a Real Time Ambient Noise Monitoring Station Network (NMS), that will have 26 noise monitoring stations. But the installation work is yet to start, officials said.

Twenty-six noise monitors from France are stuck at the Mumbai airport for more than a month due to the lockdown, according to officials.

Currently, noise levels exceed accepted levels in many areas in the city, officials said.

Govt. road map

“These are extraordinary times and there are chances of works getting delayed. But as we limp back to a new reality, the government should review their plans and come up with a clear road map. If you want to prevent the smog in the winters, this is the time to work and accelerate,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the ‘Clean Air’ programme at the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 4:44:53 AM |

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