Delhi’s air pollution

Delhi’s air pollution

#GS-03 Environment and Ecology, Pollution Control

For Prelims:

About Graded Response Action Plan:

  • Supreme Court’s in M. C. Mehta vs. Union of India (2016) expressed concerns regarding air quality in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
  • The action plan was formulated in 2016 and notified in 2017 for Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) due to this judgement.
  • GRAP was formulated after several rounds of meetings were held between the EPCA and state government representatives and domain experts.
The GRAP for Delhi-NCR is divided into four stages of air quality:
  • Stage one for “poor” Air Quality Index (AQI) ranging between 201 and 300,
  • Stage two for “very poor” AQI of 301-400,
  • Stage three for “severe” AQI of 401-450 and
  • Stage four for “severe plus” AQI more than 450.

For Mains:

What does each stage entail:

Stage 1:
  • In stage one, a ban on construction and demolition activities at specific sites will be implemented.
  • Also, agencies should ensure that all solid waste is lifted from dedicated dump sites, and none is dumped on open land.
  • Heavy fines are to be imposed for openly burning municipal solid waste and biomass.
  • Roads will be mechanically cleaned and water sprinkled from time to time.
  • The ban on firecrackers should be followed as per the directions of respective courts.
Stage 2:
  • In stage two, mechanised sweeping of roads will be done daily, while water will be sprinkled using dust suppressants at least on alternate days.
  • Authorities would need to ensure an uninterrupted power supply to discourage the use of generators.
Stage 3:
  • At stage three, the frequency of cleaning roads intensifies.
  • Water would be sprinkled daily before peak traffic hours.
  • Authorities will levy different rates on public transport services to encourage off-peak travel.
  • A strict ban will be enforced on all construction activities, except ongoing construction of railway, metro, airport and hospital projects.
  • The State government will be empowered to impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel light motor vehicles (LMVs).
Stage 4:
  • During stage four, when the air quality rises to dangerous levels, entry of all trucks, except those carrying essential commodities, will be restricted.
  • Four-wheeler diesel LMVs would also be banned except those used for essential or emergency services.
  • All construction and demolition activities would have to be stopped.
  • The respective governments could, meanwhile, take a call on allowing public, municipal and private offices to work on 50% strength.
  • Additional emergency measures like closing schools, non-emergency commercial activities and plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis may also be enforced.

The GRAP includes a graded advisory for the public including properly tuning engines of their vehicles, ensuring accurate air pressure in tyres and updating PUC (pollution under control) certificates.