With the air quality in Delhi dropping to the ‘poor’ level on Wednesday, authorities in the National Capital Region (NCR) have been asked to strictly implement measures under the first stage of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The action plan includes penal and legal action against polluting industrial units. The Centre’s sub-committee on GRAP in a meeting noted that there has been a “sudden dip” in air quality parameters in the region in the last 24 hours which pushed Delhi’s AQI into the ‘poor’ category. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’.
“While this is likely to be a localised influence and the forecasts do not predict any further deterioration, in an effort to maintain the AQI in the moderate category, as a precautionary measure, the sub-committee decided that all actions as envisaged under Stage I of the GRAP – ‘Poor’ air quality be implemented in right earnest by all the agencies concerned, with immediate effect in the NCR,” the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) said in an order.
Delhi’s 24-average air quality index stood at 211 at 4 pm, worsening from 150 at 4 pm on Tuesday. It stood at 248 in Ghaziabad, 196 in Faridabad, 234 in Greater Noida, 238 in Gurugram and 215 in Noida.
Stage I of GRAP
Under Stage-I, the Centre’s Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) recommends stopping construction and demolition (C&D) activities at sites having plot size equal to or more than 500 square metres that are not registered on the “web portal” of the respective states for remote monitoring of air pollution levels.
Project proponents are required to ensure proper implementation of guidelines for dust mitigation, management of C&D waste and use of anti-smog guns at construction sites. Agencies concerned are required to ensure periodic mechanised sweeping of roads and water sprinkling, and impose heavy fines for violation of the curbs on open burning of biomass and municipal solid waste.
The authorities are required to strictly enforce PUC (pollution under check) norms for vehicles and maintain a strict vigil to ensure that there are no burning incidents at landfills and dump sites.
They also need to ensure that thermal power plants comply with emission norms and only approved fuel is used by industries, and stringent action is taken against violations.
Dr Vijay Kumar Soni, a scientist at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and part of the Centre’s sub-committee for GRAP, said the air quality is likely to improve to moderate category by Thursday.
“We expect light rains and favorable wind direction and speed over the next three to four days in Delhi-NCR which will help improve air quality,” he said.