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Delhi Moves To GRAP Stage 3 As Air Quality Turns 'Severe', Here's What It Means

The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) lists a set of measures to be followed to tackle air pollution in Delhi and its adjacent areas according to the severity of the situation.

Delhi air quality was in severe plus category on Friday.
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Amid worsening pollution levels in Delhi, the Centre's air quality panel Saturday directed authorities in the National Capital Region to implement curbs such as a ban on construction and demolition activities under the Graded Response Action Plan stage III.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) further said states might impose restrictions on the plying of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in the NCR considering the worsening air quality. This direction is non-binding on authorities. 

Stage III of GRAP means a ban on all construction activities except those of national importance. 

As per an official press release by CAQM, "Under this, all construction work will be banned except for special projects like Central Vista and other projects of national need."

What is GRAP?

The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) lists a set of measures to be followed to tackle air pollution in Delhi and its adjacent areas according to the severity of the situation. It will be implemented by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM). Considering suggestions from the public and experts that early precautionary measures can prevent deterioration in air quality, the CAQM decided to implement GRAP early this time.

Under the revised action plan, curbs can be imposed on polluting activities up to three days in advance based on forecasts.

GRAP is classified under four different stages of adverse air quality in Delhi: 

Stage I is for 'poor' air if the Air Quality Index (AQI) is from 201-300 
Stage II is for 'very poor' air if AQI ranges from 301-400 
Stage III is for 'severe' air if AQI is 401-450
Stage IV is for 'severe plus' air if the AQI is above 450

What is banned under Stage III?

If the situation turns "severe" (Stage III), authorities will have to enforce a ban on construction and demolition activities in NCR, except on essential projects (such as railways, metros, airports, ISBTs, national security/defence-related projects of national importance) and non-polluting activities such as plumbing, carpentry, interior decoration and electrical works.

Brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers not operating on clean fuels, and mining and associated activities in NCR will also be banned under Stage III.

The state governments in Delhi-NCR may also impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel light motor vehicles (four-wheelers) under Stage III.

How Stage III rules are being implemented

As many as 120 enforcement teams of the Delhi government's transport department and the city police will implement restriction on plying of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in the national capital if such curbs are imposed, officials said. 

"We check the vehicles by uploading their registration numbers in the Vahan database and checking their type and other specifics. All the 120 enforcement teams are busy in implementing the various pollution-related measures," the official said.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai will chair a high-level meeting on Sunday to discuss measures to be implemented under stage III of GRAP.

The national capital's 24-hour average air quality index stood at 397 at 4 pm, the worst since January. It was 354 on Thursday, 271 on Wednesday, 302 on Tuesday and 312 on Monday (Diwali).

(With inputs from PTI)

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