The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Wednesday ordered closure of hot mix plants and stone crushers in Delhi-NCR till November 17 in view of a likely increase in pollution levels during the festive season.
It also asked the governments of Punjab and Haryana to take immediate stringent actions to curb stubble burning and authorities in Delhi-NCR to strictly check biomass burning.
'Frequency of mechanised cleaning of roads and water sprinkling to be increased particularly on road stretches with high dust generation potential,' the apex pollution watchdog said in an order.
'It should be ensured that guidelines and standard operating procedures for dust mitigation at construction sites are strictly adhered to,' it said.
In case of any violation, strict action should be taken against the violators such as imposition of penalty and temporary stoppage of construction activities, the CPCB order to pollution control boards of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab read.
'Agencies must ensure compliance of orders of courts and the National Green Tribunal regarding banning the sale and use of firecrackers,' it said.
The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas had on Tuesday tasked the CPCB with operationalising and monitoring GRAP measures till a mechanism is set up by the newly-constituted panel.
The commission had also decided that in view of the deteriorating air quality in the NCR region, there is a need to invoke the GRAP, which has been already notified by the central government.
The Graded Response Action Plan is a set of anti-pollution measures followed in Delhi and its vicinity towns according to the severity of the situation.
It was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2017 and comes into force on October 15.
According to the GRAP, the air quality is considered in the 'severe plus' or 'emergency' category if PM2.5 and PM10 levels persist above 300 g/m3 and 500 g/m3 for more than 48 hours.
The GRAP recommends measures such as a ban on construction activities, entry of trucks and car rationing scheme in such a scenario.
"It has been observed that PM2.5 concentration in Delhi-NCR exceeded 300 g/m3 at 7 pm on November 8 and persisted for more than 48 hours. However, a declining trend was observed since 12 noon on Wednesday and PM2.5 concentration is now below 300 g/m3 since 5 am on Thursday," the CPCB said.
Government agencies have predicted the air quality of Delhi-NCR to deteriorate marginally and remain in the upper end of the 'very poor' category to the 'severe' category.
On Monday, the National Green Tribunal imposed a total ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region from November 9 midnight to November 30 midnight, saying 'celebration by crackers is for happiness and not to celebrate deaths and diseases'.