The SDMC notice, issued on October 15, said the NBCC had ignored its request, asking them to follow guidelines issued by the National Green Tribunal to mitigate dust pollution in the capital.
As a result of no action from NBCC on the SDMC reminders, The Supreme Court-mandated EPCA had confirmed with TFT that the construction work at Pragati Maidan had been stopped. Sunita Narain, EPCA member and Director General at CSE informed, “Our understanding is that the construction activity was stopped due to no action being initiated on the part of NBCC, even after reminders by SDMC. She added, “We are only in the first stage of GRAP, which includes strict enforcement of dust-control measures, and while stopping of construction activity is not required, agencies can do that if a site violates the norms repeatedly.”
“We have received multiple complaints that dust norms are not being followed by NBCC despite the assurances,” Narain said.
The NBCC appeared to have ignored SDMC’s earlier request asking them to follow NGT guidelines to mitigate dust pollution. Hence, they had been asked to halt construction work with immediate effect.
EPCA officials said that, at present, no other site had seen construction work been stopped. However, the Kidwai Nagar project was also under the scanner. “We had received multiple complaints that dust norms were not being followed there. The project was supposed to be completed last year and NBCC had assured us that dust violations will not be a problem this winter,” Narain said.
According to NGT guidelines, construction material and debris are supposed to be covered with tarpaulin while the site itself should have windbreakers on all sides. The guidelines also state that trucks carrying material should be suitably covered and the area for debris storage physically demarcated.
The redevelopment project includes the construction of six exhibition halls and a convention centre. The civic body had also asked the NBCC to obtain a sanction plan from it or produce a copy if they have acquired the same from a competent agency before resuming work.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation had ordered the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to stop all construction and demolition activities at the Pragati Maidan redevelopment project site in the backdrop of increasing pollution levels in the capital.
The order to stop construction, however, remained in place till air quality was brought to a satisfactory level as per the standards specified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), said an official.
However, just four days after it halted construction at the convention-cum-exhibition centre at Pragati Maidan, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) gave the construction agency, National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), a go-ahead, saying they were exercising all precautionary measures to be followed to prevent air pollution. The SDMC notice, issued on October 15, said the NBCC had ignored its request, asking them to follow guidelines issued by the National Green Tribunal to mitigate dust pollution in the capital. In its order on October 18, SDMC said a representation by NBCC had stated that it was following norms such as fixing wind screens, sprinkling of water and covering construction material.
NBCC also showcased measures adopted at Pragati Maidan, including sprinkling of water , fixing view cutters and windscreens, while covering C&D waste and construction material with tarpaulin. It also said tyres of trucks were being washed and the dust control measures were according to CPCB guidelines.
“The submissions made had been verified by the area engineer concerned and it has been reported that NBCC has adopted the precautionary measures. NBCC is allowed to resume construction. However, it will continue to adopt all requisite measures,” the notice stated.
Pollution caused by dust from under-construction buildings is one of the many reasons for pollution in the city. Under the Graded Response Action Plan to control pollution, if the air quality crosses severe levels, construction activity in the city has to be halted.