The laying of a 220KV power cable by Delhi Transco Ltd opposite Alaknanda market has badly affected the movement of traffic there. The excavated soil on the site lies unevenly covered against the prevailing anti-pollution imperative to prevent dust from blowing.
Vehicular emissions due to their slowing down of traffic on the blocked road are adding to the pollution load in the area. Though Delhi government has lifted the ban on construction sites, digging work has impacted the smooth movement of vehicles.
When TOI visited the site on November 22, it found that the ongoing work was the cause of congestion most of the time, with the condition aggravating during the peak traffic hours. A parking attendant at Alaknanda market said, “Due to the ongoing construction work, the traffic moves at a snail’s pace during the peak hours in the morning and evening. In those hours, it becomes difficult for vehicles to move from the parking lane because of the lack of space.” Bishwadev Majumdar, a bank employee, said there were dust clouds almost all the time and traffic snarls on the route every day.
Similarly, the work of laying power cables by Delhi Transco Ltd on Outer Ring Road near Munirka causes congestion on the stretch during the rush hours. The construction site was following all guidelines issued by the environment department to control dust pollution, but traffic pollution wasn’t under check.
Experts said a proper strategy was required at large construction sites that impede traffic flow. Amit Bhatt, Executive Director, Integrated Transport, World Resources Institute-India, said, “When someone is outdoors, the individual is exposed to pollutants higher than the overall air quality of the city as that person is in direct contact with emissions from vehicles. If their travel time increases due to congestion, the commuter is exposed to poor air for additional time. Hence, it is necessary for authorities to ensure smooth flow of traffic and reduced travel times.”
Bhatt added, “The big projects should come up with a strategy to manage the mobility during construction activities, especially when the air quality is in the ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ categories. Proper traffic management measures are needed, such as deployment of additional traffic marshals or diversion of the traffic to different routes.”
Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment, concurred that large-scale construction and road work need to be better timed to avoid the peak winter pollution period. “From the past trends and forecasts, we now know how winter pollution behaves and the need to avoid certain things,” she said. “Moreover, such works not only contribute to local pollution, but also aggravate congestion and, so vehicular emissions that increase the particulate load during bad air days.”
Responding to queries, a Delhi Transco official claimed, “The work of laying power cables was halted after the ban on construction activity. However, all guidelines to control dust, like covering the soil and sprinkling water on it are being followed. The deadline to complete the project is April next year, but we have targeted a completion date of March 31. However, we will finish the work on the stretch betweenTughlakabad extension and Masjid Moth within a month.” The official added, “The work at a site begins after coordination with land-owning agencies and Delhi police. The contractor of the project deploys its own marshal to help people for proper flow of traffic.”
According to the Decision Support System, which has been developed by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, to forecast the sources of local and regional pollution that can impact Delhi’s air, the contribution of transport to the city’s PM2.5 load was likely around 25.5% and that of construction around 3.5% on November 23 at 8.30 pm.
Priyangi Agarwal, TNN, Delhi/NCR