Adding to the air pollution woes of India, the national capital of the country recently turned into a gas chamber – with a jump in Air Quality Index (AQI) of over 900, crossing the ‘severe plus’ category in various regions. The Delhi Government responded to the massive deterioration in the quality of air by declaring a public health emergency and shutting down schools for a stipulated amount of time.
The government attributed the increase in pollution levels to various crop burning activities undertaken by neighbouring states – the measures put in place to handle the crisis included a ban on burning crop stubble, resurfacing of the odd-even car regime in Delhi, distribution of around five million masks followed by a ban on construction activities in the area.
The restrictions set in place for construction in the capital were enforced by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) to reportedly, manage the severe pollution levels. The ban is set till Monday and further decisions will be taken prior to an assessment of the level of air quality.
The ban will further result in a delay and extension of deadlines for the completion of projects. It is estimated that even if the ban is lifted earlier, it will take a considerable time to reorganise labour and other resources.
As reported, a ban of one day can amount to 10 days’ work and will, therefore, stretch the deadline considerably. The workers have to completely stop all work and start from the beginning, which in turn takes up a major chunk of time. Reassembling labourers too becomes a difficult task as they leave following the ban.
Reportedly, the EPCA had previously put a ban on construction and operation of hot mix plants and stone crushers from 6 pm to 6 am from 26 October to 30 October. Although the ban was extended till 31 October, the body put up a complete restriction on all activities on 5 November.
The main issue to arise out of the ban is the exponential delay in projects. Reportedly, it is expected that in the long run, most developers will be able to make up for the delay but the projects that were almost on the finish line will see a considerable setback.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI), charged with the responsibility of monitoring infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.5 billion or more, had earlier released a report for June 2019 according to which – out of the total 1608 projects, the number of projects that had crossed their deadlines amounted to 550.