Worldwide, 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air. Air pollution is among the greatest threats to human health. About 29% of lung cancer deaths and diseases, 43% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease fatalities, and 25% of heart disease and stroke deaths are attributed to ambient air pollution. According to the 2017 Global Burden of Disease report, 1.24 million fatalities are attributable to air pollution.
Air pollution has become a serious issue today. Owing to transportation sector, industries and agrarian sector the problem is on the rise than ever before. Delhi the National Capital Territory of India faces the worst form of air pollution in the winter months which are fast approaching.
GRAP- Graded Response Action Plan
The GRAP is a step-by-step approach to combat the poor air quality in Delhi-NCR. In 2017, the Environmental Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) and the Delhi government created the plan. However, it is only implemented when air pollution reaches a particular threshold, as it is an emergency response system. In addition, the approach is gradual and flexible, which implies that the preventive measures will be revised and intensified when the AQI fluctuates. GRAP is being implemented based on the AQI, which also takes into account pollutants such as ozone, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.
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 Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority ( now dissolved) for the NCR was responsible for implementing the GRAP. Beginning in 2021, the CAQM ( Commission for Air Quality Management) implements the GRAP.
The CAQM has established a subcommittee for the GRAP's operationalization. This body consists of officials from the CAQM, member secretaries of the pollution control boards of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, and Rajasthan, as well as the Central Pollution Control Board, a scientist from the IMD and one from the IITM.
The subcommittee must meet frequently in order to give directives to initiate the GRAP. In the event of a contradiction between State government directives and CAQM directives, the CAQM's orders and instructions will take precedence. The pollution control boards of the NCR states and the associated departments and agencies, including the traffic police, the Transport Department, and road-owning and construction agencies, are responsible for enforcing the plan's various kinds of measures.
Stages And Planned Responses
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”)
increase parking fees to discourage private transport
increase CNG/ electric bus and metro services by procuring additional fleet and increasing the frequency of service
Stage 3 (AQI ‘Severe’ – 401 to 450)
(1) Ban on construction and demolition activities except railway, metro, hospitals, sanitation projects etc, linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers
(2) 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
(3) 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 Construction and Demolition activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers