Focus: GS III: Environment and Ecology
Why in News?
Stage III of revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) invoked in Delhi-NCR with immediate effect.
What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
- GRAP is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.
- Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.
- The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450) respectively.
- For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
- Measures being imposed under the previous categories will continue even when the subsequent category is activated, that is, if measures under Stage-2 are activated, measures under Stage-1 will continue to remain in place.
- The CAQM revised the Graded Response Action Plan earlier this year.
- The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
- This was based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016. According to the notification, the task of implementing the GRAP fell on the now dissolved Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR.
- From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the CAQM.
How is the GRAP different this year?
- In the version of the GRAP that was notified in 2017, measures kicked in after pollution concentrations reached a certain level.
- This year, measures are pre-emptive and will kick in based on forecasts in an attempt to prevent the AQI from deteriorating further.
- The older version of the GRAP was enforced based only on the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10.
- This year, GRAP is being enforced based on the AQI, which takes other pollutants also into account, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
Who will implement and enforce the GRAP?
- The CAQM has constituted a sub-committee for the operationalization of the GRAP.
- This body includes officials from the CAQM, member secretaries of pollution control boards of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, the Central Pollution Control Board, a scientist from the IMD and one from the IITM, and Health Advisor, Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College. The sub-committee is required to meet frequently to issue orders to invoke the GRAP.
- The orders and directions of the CAQM will prevail in case of any conflict between directions issued by the State governments and the CAQM.
- Measures under the different categories of the plan are to be enforced by the pollution control boards of the NCR states and the concerned departments and agencies, including the traffic police, the Transport Department and road owning and construction agencies.
What are the measures that will be enforced?
Stage 1 (AQI ‘Poor’ – 201 to 300)
- Stopping all construction and demolition activities with plot size of 500 square metres or more which have not been registered on dust mitigation monitoring portals
- Mechanised sweeping, water sprinkling on roads
- Enforcing guidelines on use of anti-smog guns at construction sites
- Enforcing ban on open burning of waste and PUC (pollution under control norms) for vehicles
- DISCOMs to minimise power supply interruptions in NCR
- Encourage offices to start unified commute for employees to reduce traffic
Stage 2 (AQI ‘Very poor’ – 301 to 400)
- Not allowing coal/firewood in tandoors at hotels
- Stopping use of diesel generator sets except for essential and emergency services (hospitals, railways, metro services, airports, water pumping stations, “projects of national importance”)
- Enhance parking fees to discourage private transport
- Augment CNG/ electric bus and metro services by procuring additional fleet and increasing the frequency of service
Stage 3 (AQI ‘Severe’ – 401 to 450)
- Ban on construction and demolition activities except railway, metro, hospitals, sanitation projects etc, linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers
- Closure of industries that have PNG supply and are not running on approved fuels. In industrial areas that don’t have PNG supply, industries not running on approved fuels will operate only for five days a week
- State governments in NCR may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four wheelers
Stage 4 (AQI ‘Severe +’ – more than 450)
- Stop entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except for essentials, CNG and electric trucks)
- Ban on plying of Delhi registered diesel medium and heavy goods vehicles in Delhi, except for essentials
- Ban on plying of 4-wheeler diesel vehicles in Delhi and districts of NCR bordering Delhi, except BS-VI vehicles and vehicles used for essential or emergency services
- State Governments may consider additional emergency measures like closure of schools, plying of vehicles on odd-even basis
- NCR State governments to decide on allowing public, municipal and private offices to work on 50% strength and the rest to work from home
- Ban C&D activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers