Like every year, the authorities in Delhi-NCR have put a blanket ban on all kinds of construction activities as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to control the high level of air pollution. Considering that construction activity contributes insignificantly to the overall air pollution compared to other factors, a blanket ban on it is without any rationale. And the big question is why make the construction sector an easy scapegoat?
Come winter and the residents of Delhi- NCR are made to cope with the banning of several activities under GRAP to check the toxic air which assumes alarming proportions due to rising dust and air polluting particles. The whole focus of the authorities remains on construction activity and pollution caused by farm fires which cause comparatively much lesser pollution compared to high pollution activity like vehicular pollution and industrial pollution.
According to a study by Delhi’s Centre for Science & Environment, construction work causes only 7 percent of the overall pollution whereas vehicles and industrial units cause high levels of pollution- 51 percent and 13 percent respectively. In Gurgaon the residents have to bear the brunt of air pollution throughout the year as roads are in shambles , causing severe dust pollution. Lack of landscaping and tiled/cemented pedestrian paths are further adding to the woes. This problem is getting aggravated every year because of the lack of Metro network in the city. Not a single inch of Metro line has been added ever since Metro reached Gurgaon ( up to Huda City Centre) in 2010. Today in a fast expanding Gurgaon, the Delhi Metro line covers only about five kilometers.
The lopsided policy to check air pollution has a disastrous impact on the construction sector with construction timelines taking a hit , thereby increasing the cost burden for developers in turn resulting in costlier homes.According to real estate industry, one month ban on construction activity delays the project by at least 4 months. An Anarock report says the current ban can impact 5 lakh under construction residential units in Delhi- NCR including New Gurgaon, Dwarka Expressway, GCER ,Sohna, Noida West, Greater Noida, Yamuna Expressway, Central Noida, Greater Faridabad, Raj Nagar Extension(Ghaziabad) .
Over the years, a short term piecemeal policy approach has not helped in curbing air pollution. Instead, it has added to the woes of citizens and industries like real estate/construction. The real estate industry bodies like Credai and Naredco rightly argue that a blanket ban on construction is totally unjustified. It calls for allowing internal building works like plumbing, wiring, plastering etc. Instead of making the real estate/construction sector an easy scapegoat, what is needed is a long-term holistic and institutional policy with rational approach to effectively tackle this serious problem .