What's New Graded Action Plan To Tackle Air Pollution In Delhi?

Around this time every year, Delhi's air becomes very polluted because of the twin effects of stubble burning by farmers and cracker bursting.

Delhi air pollution

A new graded action plan to combat air pollution has come into effect in Delhi from Saturday.

The revised 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. Around this time every year, Delhi and sorrounding National Capital Region (NCR) plunges into very poor air because of the twin effects of large-scale stubble burning by farmers and burning of crackers during Diwali festivities.

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

What are the four stages of air pollution?

The environment department will be using the new real-time source apportionment system which will help identify the sources of air pollution in real time and the data will be available from October 20, said officials. The green war room will monitor violations and redress complaints and grievances in keeping with the practice being followed for the last two years.

GRAP has now been 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

Earlier, the authorities would implement the measures only after the PM2.5 and PM10 concentration touched a particular threshold. This time, restrictions will be based on AQI values rather than PM2.5 and PM10 concentration. 

Actions under the four stages

Stage 1

Under Stage I, the CAQM has recommended strict action against polluting industries, vehicles and biomass burning. 

Stage II

The use of coal and firewood, including in tandoors in hotels, restaurants, open eateries, and diesel generator sets, except for emergent and essential services, is banned under Stage II.

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.

Stage IV

The measures in the "severe plus" category or Stage IV include a ban on the entry of trucks into Delhi, and on the plying of Delhi-registered diesel-run medium goods vehicles and heavy goods vehicles in the national capital, except those carrying essential commodities.

The use of four-wheeler diesel light motor vehicles, except for BS-VI vehicles and vehicles engaged in essential services, will also be banned in Delhi and the bordering districts of NCR.

Stage IV will also entail a ban on industries running on dirty fuels and on construction and demolition activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, over bridges, power transmission and pipelines.

The state governments can consider allowing 50 per cent staff to work from home in public, municipal and private offices, and undertake additional emergency measures such as closure of educational institutions and the plying of vehicles on odd-even basis etc.

(With PTI inputs)