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Rashmi Ranjan

Rourkela: The State Pollution Control Board eased its earlier proposed emergency measures including the closure of schools and colleges in Rourkela after the air quality in the Steel City improved on Thursday.

In a fresh letter to Sundargarh district Collector and Commissioner of the Rourkela Municipal Corporation, the Pollution Control Board has urged the authorities to allow the functioning of schools and colleges with certain restrictions.

“The Board has intensified the air quality monitoring due to severe air pollution in Rourkela. The latest report of air quality has shown that the Air Quality Index (AQI) has come down from 526 on March 8 to 342 on March 10. This means the air pollution has improved from very severe condition to moderate to-poor condition. In view of this improvement, the emergency measures proposed are revised,” the letter read.

School and collages in the Steel City may now resume operation but they may be advised not to take up any outdoor and sports activity. The restriction and regulation on air polluting industries in and around Rourkela will continue to remain in force till the air quality improves further, the letter said.

“Entry of heavy vehicles may now be permitted, however road cleaning and water sprinkling activity on major roads may be intensified to further bring down the pollution level. Activities in railway siding may be resumed with adequate water sprinkling and cleaning of approach roads. Strict vigilance be made for visibly polluting vehicles and may be subjected to appropriate penalties. All the trucks carrying goods and materials are entering the Rourkela City should be fully covered with tarpaulin,” the letter stated.

However, the Board has imposed restrictions on all kinds of garbage burning. Side by side, the Board urged the district administration to carry out periodic mechanised sweeping, particularly in roads with heavy traffic, along with water sprinkling and adequate water sprinkling for construction activities particularly for large scale constructions.

Earlier in its letter issued on Wednesday, the Pollution Control Board had urged the district administration to impose restriction on entry of heavy diesel vehicles except vehicles carrying essential commodities to the city, loading and unloading of raw materials and minerals in the railway sidings and construction activities till the air quality improved.

Moreover, it had also advised to impose a complete ban on burning of garbage, proper measure to prevent agricultural residue burning and forest fire in the area surrounding Rourkela City and closure of schools and colleges till an improvement in the situation was noticed.

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