Delhi to roll out graduated response action plan to tackle air pollution from Oct 1

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As the weather is expected to turn unfavorable following the retreat of the monsoon and the burning of stubble by farmers in Punjab, Delhi is gearing up to implement the revamped Graduated Response Action Plan – a set of anti- pollution monitored according to the severity of the situation – from 1 October.

According to the guidelines of the Air Quality Management Commission (CAQM), the plan will come into effect 15 days before the usual date to avoid the accumulation of pollutants following the change in wind direction to the northwest and a drop in wind speed following the retreat of the monsoon, an official said.

“We will also use the real-time source allocation system which will help understand the real-time effect of pollution sources such as vehicles, road dust, construction dust, biomass burning, fires farm and industrial emissions,” the official said. .

Read | Scientists Discover How Air Pollution Triggers Lung Cancer

The Green War Room will monitor violations and redress complaints and grievances as has been the practice for the past two years.

A decision has not yet been made on the re-implementation of the “Red Light On Gaadi Off” campaign, the official said.

As part of the first campaign launched on October 16, 2020 to reduce car pollution in the capital, drivers are encouraged to turn off their vehicles while waiting for the light to turn green.

The official said the “complete ban” on firecrackers will also cover Dussehra festivities.

The revised GRAP, which is part of a new policy formulated by the CAQM to reduce air pollution in Delhi-NCR, focuses on the proactive implementation of forecast-based restrictions – restrictions can be imposed up to three days in advance.

Previously, authorities only implemented the measures after the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 reached a particular threshold.

The new plan also entails a ban on BS IV four-wheel diesel vehicles, excluding those engaged in essential services, in Delhi and bordering districts of the NCR if the Air Quality Index (AQI ) exceeds the 450 mark.

The Graduated Response Action Plan (GRAP), notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2017, would come into effect from October 15 when air pollution levels in the region begin to rise. aggravate.

The CAQM has now decided to implement it from October 1, according to a communication sent to relevant state agencies and departments.

The GRAP for the National Capital Region (NCR) has now been categorized into four different stages of poor air quality in Delhi: Stage I – “Poor” (AQI 201-300); Stage II – “Very low” (AQI 301-400); Stage III – “Severe” (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI > 450).

The revised GRAP recommends a ban on the use of charcoal and firewood, including in tandoors of hotels, restaurants, open restaurants; and on diesel generators, except for phase I emerging and essential services.

If the situation becomes “severe” (Stage III), the authorities will have to apply a ban on construction and demolition activities in the NCR, with the exception of essential projects (such as railways, metros, airports, ISBTs, national security/state defense projects). importance) and non-polluting activities such as plumbing, carpentry, interior decorating and electrical work.

Brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers not running on clean fuels, as well as mining and related activities in the NCR will also be banned under Phase III.

“Delhi-NCR state governments may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel (four-wheeler) light-duty motor vehicles under Phase III,” the policy document reads.

The measures to be followed in the category “Severe Plus” or Stage IV include a ban on the entry of trucks into Delhi and the circulation of medium commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) registered in Delhi on the national territory. capital except those who transport basic necessities.

The use of four-wheeled light diesel vehicles, except BS-VI vehicles and vehicles assigned to essential services, will also be banned in Delhi and border districts of the NCR.

Phase IV will also involve a ban on dirty fuel industries and construction and demolition activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, bridges, power transmission and pipelines.

“State governments may consider allowing 50% of staff to work from home in public, municipal and private offices, and additional emergency measures such as the closure of educational institutions and the circulation of vehicles on a odd, etc.”, he said.

Actions under Stages II, III and IV will need to be taken at least three days before the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches the projected levels of this stage.

Previously, authorities waited for the concentration of PM 2.5 or PM 10 to reach a particular threshold.

In the “more severe” category, the agencies waited for PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations to remain above 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic meter for 48 hours or more before implementing the measures prescribed by the GRAP.

The GRAP Sub-Committee will meet frequently to plan prior actions and issue necessary orders to invoke various provisions of the GRAP, depending on the prevailing air quality and AQI forecasts which will be provided by the Department of Indian Meteorology (IMD) from time to time. .

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