The revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to deal with air pollution this winter will come into force with effect from October 1, according to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM).
An expert group constituted by the CAQM had suggested revisions to the existing GRAP which comprises measures to be taken when the air quality worsens in Delhi-NCR.
This year, the GRAP will be implemented differently – it will be pre-emptive and will be invoked three days in advance of the air quality reaching a certain level based on forecasts. In previous years, GRAP was invoked when particulate matter concentrations reached a certain threshold.
The commission issued directions Friday asking officials to ensure strict implementation of the revised GRAP. In the revised plan, there are four stages of adverse air quality — ‘poor’ (AQI from 201 to 300), ‘very poor’ (AQI from 301 to 400), ‘severe’ (AQI from 401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ (AQI more than 450). Actions under the ‘very poor’, ‘severe’ and ‘severe +’ categories are to be invoked at least three days in advance of the AQI reaching that particular stage. This will be based on forecasts provided to the CAQM by the India Meteorological Department and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
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As per the directions issued by the CAQM on Friday, the chief secretaries of the National Capital Region (NCR)states and the Delhi government have been asked to frequently review the implementation of GRAP.
Under the revised plan, the ban on construction activities (except for those involving the railways, projects of national security, hospitals, metro rail services, and linear public projects like highways, roads) will set in under the ‘severe’ category. In the previous system, the construction ban was imposed only in the ‘severe +’ category. Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe+’ category.
Unlike the old plan, which was invoked when particulate matter concentrations reached a certain threshold, the revised Graded Response Action Plan will be pre-emtive — it will come into play three days in advance of air quality reaching a certain level based on forecasts. As per directions issued by CAQM, chief secretaries of NCR states and Delhi government have been asked to frequently review the plan’s implementation.
Restrictions on industries in the NCR will set in under the ‘severe’ category. Industries that don’t have PNG (piped natural gas) supply will be allowed to operate only five days a week till December 31. All industries in the NCR running on fuels other than those approved for the region will be shut down under the ‘severe+’ category.
There will be restrictions on four-wheelers as well this winter. Under the ‘severe’ category, state governments in the NCR and the Delhi government may impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers. Under the ‘severe +’ category, that is, when the AQI is more than 450, there will be a ban on plying Delhi registered diesel operated “medium goods vehicles” and “heavy goods vehicles” in Delhi, except those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services. Under the same AQI category, there will also be a ban on plying four-wheeler diesel vehicles in Delhi and the NCR districts bordering Delhi, except for BS-VI vehicles and those used for essential or emergency services.
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For the ‘severe+’ category, NCR governments are to decide on allowing “public, municipal and private offices” to work on 50% strength and the rest to work from home. It is under this category that state governments can take a call on additional measures like the closure of educational institutions, and odd-even rules for vehicles.