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PIB Summaries 06 November 2023


  1. 3rd International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS)
  2. Graded Response Action Plan

3rd International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS)


The Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous organization of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry hosted the 3rd International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS) in New Delhi.


GS II: Government Policies and Inerventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Event Organization and Purpose
  2. Key Highlights
  3. Quality Council of India (QCI)

Event Organization and Purpose:

  • The 3rd International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS) was organized as a two-day event by the India National Platform on Private Sustainability Standards (India PSS Platform), with QCI hosting it in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS).
  • ICSTS aimed to create awareness and facilitate discussions on the challenges and advantages of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) in enhancing the environmental and social aspects of global value chains.

Key Highlights:

  • Bilateral Agreement with ARSO: QCI and the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) signed an agreement to enhance trade relations and harmonize standards, with a focus on promoting global trade.
  • International Partnerships: India established partnerships with Brazil and Mexico and further extended cooperation with ARSO in the realm of Voluntary Sustainability Standards.
  • Importance of Sustainability Standards: Emphasis was placed on sustainability standards as essential rules to ensure that the products purchased do not harm the environment or the people involved in their production.
  • ONDC Initiative: The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative was spotlighted for its role in driving digitalization in e-commerce within India, enhancing accessibility and efficiency in the digital age. It adhered to international standards, ensuring data confidentiality and trustworthiness.
  • Digital Readiness Assessment: QCI was designated to assess the digital readiness of entities, facilitating their smooth integration into the ONDC Network’s Seller App.
  • Alignment of Agricultural Standards: During ICSTS, India Good Agricultural Practices (IndG.AP.) standards were compared to GLOBAL Good Agricultural Practices (GLOBALG.A.P.) standards through the National Technical Working Group (NTWG) mechanism. Furthermore, the creation of National Interpretation Guidelines (NIG) occurred at the event, enabling the alignment of Indian agricultural practices with global standards and offering guidelines for their application in India.
  • Benefiting Farmers: These efforts are expected to benefit approximately 12,000 farmers by ensuring that they meet international standards for quality and sustainability.

Quality Council of India (QCI):

  • QCI is a non-profit organization registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860.
  • It was jointly founded in 1997 through a collaboration between the Government of India and prominent industry associations, namely the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
  • QCI’s primary objective is to enhance and promote quality standards across diverse sectors in India.
  • It assumes responsibility for accreditation, certification, and quality promotion within the Indian context.
Nodal Point for Quality Matters:
  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), part of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, was designated as the focal point for all matters related to quality.
  • DPIIT collaborates with QCI to structure and facilitate the implementation of Cabinet decisions in this regard.
Council Governance and Composition:
  • QCI operates under the governance of a Council comprised of 39 members, including the Chairperson and Secretary General.
  • The Chairperson is nominated by the Prime Minister of India.
  • The Council features equal representation from the Government, Industry, and other Stakeholders, ensuring a balanced and inclusive approach to quality-related initiatives.

Graded Response Action Plan


Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas invokes 8-point action plan as per Stage-IV of the GRAP in the entire NCR with immediate effect to prevent further deterioration of air quality in the region


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Graded Response Action Plan?
  2. How is the GRAP different this year?
  3. Who will implement and enforce the GRAP?
  4. What are the measures that will be enforced?

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.
Other Details:
  • 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

December 2023