Delhi: Building sites could be fined, shut under new dust rules

Delhi: 4 August, 2021 (Times of India)


NEW DELHI: All new large construction sites in Delhi may soon have to install at least three real-time air quality monitoring stations and adhere to strict dust management norms. Failing to comply with the norms may result in fines or even closure of the construction site. The new guidelines, once approved, will apply to all construction sites with an area of more than 20,000 square metres, which will also require an environmental clearance. The guidelines also require sites to submit a fixed bank guarantee before approval to begin work is provided.
Large board at construction site to display air readings

A Dust Management Committee, comprising of experts from IIT Delhi, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has submitted a dust management plan to the Delhi government, under which warnings will be issued to the project proponent if the PM10 and PM2.5 levels at the site are more than 25% of the air quality readings at the nearest monitoring station. The new rules state that if corrective action is not taken within 24 hours of the first warning being issued, the construction site will be shut down, apart from penalties being imposed.

The committee, also comprising of officials from the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), had been asked to prepare a plan after studying the best dust-mitigation practices being observed around the world. An official said similar plans already in place in London and Paris were also taken into account.
The action plan states that while applying for the environmental clearance, each construction site will have to specify the exact location of the three air quality monitoring stations being installed. A large display board showing the readings will also have to be put up at the site, with the data being relayed to a DPCC control room.

An official said under the plan, a “cure period” of three hours will be given to take corrective measures after the first warning.

“If after three hours, no corrective measure is taken and readings still exceed the limit, a notice will be sent to the project proponent and a fine of either Rs 1 lakh, or 10% of the bank guarantee, will be invoked. If after 12 hours of the first warning, the situation does not improve, then a fine of Rs 3 lakh or 20% of the bank guarantee, whichever is higher, will be imposed, and if after 24 hours of the first warning no corrective action is taken, the site will be shut down,” said a member of the committee.

Construction and road dust can contribute to anywhere between 15% and 40% of PM2.5 and PM10 emissions in Delhi. An official said tighter monitoring of large construction sites will help in reducing local emissions.

“Random inspections of the sites will also be conducted and if data is found to be tampered with, the environmental clearance will be immediately revoked,” an official said.