Delhi’s air pollution
#GS-03 Environment and Ecology, Pollution Control
About Graded Response Action Plan:
- Supreme Court’s in M. C. Mehta vs. Union of India (2016) expressed concerns regarding air quality in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
- The action plan was formulated in 2016 and notified in 2017 for Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) due to this judgement.
- GRAP was formulated after several rounds of meetings were held between the EPCA and state government representatives and domain experts.
The GRAP for Delhi-NCR is divided into four stages of air quality:
- Stage one for “poor” Air Quality Index (AQI) ranging between 201 and 300,
- Stage two for “very poor” AQI of 301-400,
- Stage three for “severe” AQI of 401-450 and
- Stage four for “severe plus” AQI more than 450.
What does each stage entail:
- In stage one, a ban on construction and demolition activities at specific sites will be implemented.
- Also, agencies should ensure that all solid waste is lifted from dedicated dump sites, and none is dumped on open land.
- Heavy fines are to be imposed for openly burning municipal solid waste and biomass.
- Roads will be mechanically cleaned and water sprinkled from time to time.
- The ban on firecrackers should be followed as per the directions of respective courts.
- In stage two, mechanised sweeping of roads will be done daily, while water will be sprinkled using dust suppressants at least on alternate days.
- Authorities would need to ensure an uninterrupted power supply to discourage the use of generators.
- At stage three, the frequency of cleaning roads intensifies.
- Water would be sprinkled daily before peak traffic hours.
- Authorities will levy different rates on public transport services to encourage off-peak travel.
- A strict ban will be enforced on all construction activities, except ongoing construction of railway, metro, airport and hospital projects.
- The State government will be empowered to impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel light motor vehicles (LMVs).
- During stage four, when the air quality rises to dangerous levels, entry of all trucks, except those carrying essential commodities, will be restricted.
- Four-wheeler diesel LMVs would also be banned except those used for essential or emergency services.
- All construction and demolition activities would have to be stopped.
- The respective governments could, meanwhile, take a call on allowing public, municipal and private offices to work on 50% strength.
- Additional emergency measures like closing schools, non-emergency commercial activities and plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis may also be enforced.
The GRAP includes a graded advisory for the public including properly tuning engines of their vehicles, ensuring accurate air pressure in tyres and updating PUC (pollution under control) certificates.