Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to the “poor” category. Let’s see how the revised GRAP will help in tackling the problem of air pollution.
After the deterioration of the air quality of Delhi (NCR) and neighboring areas, a revised action plan for fighting air pollution came into force.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) reiterated to all implementing agencies of the Central and State Governments of NCR to strictly implement the first stage of the revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
CAQM asked the authorities in Delhi-NCR to enforce strict measures, including a ban on all construction and demolition activities in plots that aren’t registered on government-mandated web portals.
In accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of M. C. Mehta v. Union of India (2016) addressing the air quality in the National Capital Region of Delhi, a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been created for implementation under the different Air Quality Index (AQI) categories of Moderate & Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
For the “prevention, control, and abatement” of air pollution in Delhi-NCR, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change announced the Plan in 2017. It keeps PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations from exceeding the “moderate” national AQI threshold.
For the implementation of the plan, the Centre decided to set up the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas.
How does the Commission for Air Quality Management Function?
Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) is a statutory body formed by the central government.
The organization works in concert with other States to develop and carry out plans for the prevention and management of air pollution in the NCR and adjoining areas.
What is Revised GRAP?
The revised action plan will be dependent on Air Quality Index (AQI) for restrictions on polluting activities rather than PM2.5 and PM10 concentration.
The revised GRAP is divided into 4 stages and the authority has confirmed the implementation of the first stage.
Stages in GRAP
The GRAP for Delhi-NCR and neighboring areas are divided into four stages-
Stage 1- “poor” AQI ranging between 201 and 300
Stage 2- “very poor” AQI of 301-400
Stage 3- “severe” AQI of 401-450
Stage 4- “severe plus” AQI more than 450.
Understanding all the stages in depth-
Stage One of GRAP
- Implementation of a ban on construction and demolition activities at specific sites.
- Agencies should ensure that all solid waste is lifted from dedicated dump sites and that none is dumped on open land.
- Imposition of severe fine on openly burning municipal solid trash and biomass.
- Roads will occasionally be watered and mechanically cleaned.
- The ban on firecrackers should be followed as per the directions of respective courts.
- Thermal power plants must comply with emission norms.
Stage Two of GRAP
- Daily mechanized sweeping of roads.
- Sprinkling water using dust suppressants will be done at least on alternate days.
- providing uninterrupted power supply to discontinue the use of generators.
Stage Three of GRAP
- Roads are being cleaned more frequently.
- Daily watering would take place before the peak hours.
- To promote off-peak travel, authorities will impose varied fees on public transportation services.
- All construction activities-aside from those already underway for projects involving railroads, metro systems, airports, and hospitals, will be strictly prohibited.
- The State government would have the authority to impose limits on light motor vehicles (LMVs) that use BS-III gasoline and BS-IV diesel.
Stage Four of GRAP
- All trucks, excluding those transporting necessities, will be prohibited from entering when the air quality reaches dangerous levels.
- Diesel-powered four-wheel LMVs would also be prohibited, with the exception of those needed for vital or emergency services.
- All construction and demolition activities would have to be stopped.
- It may also be necessary to impose further emergency measures, such as closing schools, prohibiting non-emergency commercial activity, and driving on the odd-even schedule.
Reasons for deterioration of air quality in Delhi- NCR
Due to a variety of circumstances, the area consistently experiences high levels of air pollution in the winter. Geographically speaking, the region is landlocked, which frequently makes the pollution issue worse.
Wintertime low temperatures create a high-pressure area that draws winds from Rajasthan and occasionally from Pakistan and Afghanistan that carry dust to the area. The Himalayas further block the air’s escape route, which leads to the localization of dust and pollution.
Additional factors that significantly contribute to pollution include rising population and vehicular traffic, uncontrolled urban growth, improper waste disposal, combustion of fossil fuels, burning stubble in neighboring agricultural states, and the usage of firecrackers.
What was the cause of the sudden dip in Delhi’s air quality in the “poor” category?
The sudden deterioration in air quality was the result of “localized influence”. The possible source of such sudden change was the higher emissions of effigies burnt on the occasion of Dussehra and during a political protest.
What is Air Quality Index (AQI)?
An index for reporting air quality on a daily basis is known as the air quality index (AQI).
The AQI was created to assist people in understanding how their local air quality affects their health.
In order to protect public health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates the AQI for five primary air pollutants for which national air quality criteria have been established.
- Ground-level ozone
- Particle pollution/particulate matter (PM2.5/pm 10)
- Carbon Monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
Air Quality Index Categories
The air quality index is divided into several categories-
Good (0–50)- Minimal Impact
Satisfactory (51–100)- This may cause minor breathing difficulties in sensitive people.
Moderately polluted (101–200)- This may cause breathing difficulties in persons with lung diseases like asthma, and can cause discomfort to people with heart disease, children, and older adults.
Poor (201–300)- This may cause severe breathing difficulties in people on prolonged exposure and discomfort to people with heart disease.
Very Poor (301–400)- This may cause respiratory illness in people on prolonged exposure. The effect under this category may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.
Severe (401-450)- This may cause respiratory issues in healthy people, and cause serious health issues in people with lung and heart disease. It could lead to difficulties that may be experienced even during light physical activity.
Severe+ (451 and above)- This category was created later and has the most devastating impact on human health and can be prolonged and hazardous.
Objectives of the Air Quality Index (AQI)
- Evaluating the differences in city/location air quality.
- AQI aids in analyzing how air quality has changed (improvement or degradation).
- The AQI educates the public on the state of the environment.
- People with illnesses aggravated or caused by air pollution can especially benefit from it.
CAQM has urged citizens to cooperate in adherence to the Citizen Charter and assist in the effective implementation of the GRAP measures to improve the overall Air Quality in the region.
An initiative such as the revised GRAP made by government agencies could be enriched by the efforts of the citizens as well. There are several other measures that could be taken to tackle the problem of air pollution in the capital like the use of public transport, bicycles, CNG or electric vehicles, carpooling method, odd-even driving patterns, etc.
Article Written By: Priti Raj