A note on the New Graded Response Action Plan for regulating Air Pollution in the NCR of Delhi, India
By Dr. Yashpal Singh
In view of the serious concerns of aggravated Air Pollution in the National capital Region of Delhi, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India had notified a Graded Action plan (GRAP) in 2017. A review of the action plan recommended the use of a Dynamic Air Quality Forecast system, the Air quality Early Warning System (AQEWS) to forecast the Air Quality of Delhi. The graded Response Action plan is generally operative from October to January.
The Commission on Air Quality, a statutory Authority, created under the Environment Protection Act of 1986, has revised the Graded Response Action Plan formulated earlier and notified it vide F. No. A-110018/01/2021-CAQM/8531-8693 Dated 5th August, 2022. (CAQM Direction No. 66). The start date is 1st, October, 2022.The end date is not specified.
The GRAP has now been drawn up into action points with respect to Four (4) Air Quality stages for Delhi, as may be predicted through the AQEWS. Stage I refers to ‘Poor Air’ Quality with an Air Quality Index of 201-300; Stage II refers to ‘very poor’ Air quality with an Air Quality Index of 301-400; Stage III refers to ‘Severe’ Air Quality with an AQI of 401-450 and the Stage IV, the ‘Severe+’ stage, refers to an Air Quality Index of >450.
Different strategies have been suggested for compulsory adoption and the regulatory authorities have been directedto implement the action points by issuing necessary directions at least 03 (Three) days before the aggravated Air Pollution (stage wise) as predicted by the AQEWS and ensure compliance.
Restrictive actions implemented for the previous stages shall continue to be implemented along with the action points for the subsequent stage.
Stage 1 (Delhi AQI between 201-300). Poor Air Quality.
- Regulate dust and ensure a sound management of construction and demolition waste. Construction and demolition activities on projects greater than 500 sq. mts will be stopped if such activities are not registered on the web portal of the GNCTD (Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi).
- Ensure regular lifting of municipal solid waste, Construction and Demolition waste and Hazardous solid waste from dedicated dump sites. Prevent illegal disposal of wastes on open land.
- Ensure periodical mechanized sweeping and water sprinkling on roads. Collected dust to be disposal in designated sites.
- Ensure that construction and demolition wastes are properly covered, contained and stored within premises and recycled at the processing facility.
- Ensure use of antismog guns at construction sites.
- Prohibit open burning of biomass and municipal solid wastes. Maintain strict vigil. Impose heavy fines on violating.
- Ensure smooth flow of traffic by suitably deploying traffic police.
- Strictly enforce PUC norms through robust vigilance. Visibly polluting vehicles to be stopped from plying and impounded/or levied maximum penalty.
In terms of regulating industrial pollution, the Action plan recommends the following
- Enforce strict/penal action against non-compliant and illegal industrial units.
- Ensure use of only approved fuel in Industries and take strict action again violators.
- Strictly enforce Pollution Control regulations in Brick Kilns and Industries.
- Strictly enforce emission norms in Thermal Power plants
- Ensure watering of Fly Ash Ponds every alternate day during summers (March to May)
- Strictly enforce Court directions on Fire crackers
- Ensure regular lifting of industrial waste from Industrial and non-development areas.
- Ensure that Diesel generator sets are not used as a regular source of power supply.
- Minimize power supply interruptions in NCR.
- Build up and use information dissemination systems
- Ensure a quick redressal of complaints
- Encourage offices to start unified commute for employees to reduce traffic on road.
Stage 2 (AQI between 301-400). Very Poor Air Quality
In addition to continued actions as under stage I, the CAQM has recommended the following.
- Mechanical/vacuum-based cleaning of roads on daily basis.
- Ensure water sprinkling on Roads at least once in two days specially before peak hours at traffic hot spots and also ensure proper disposal of dusts.
- Strictly enforce dust control measures at construction and demolition sites.
- Disallow burning of coal/fire wood in Tandoors in Hotels restaurants and open eateries.
- Ensure that Hotels, Restaurants and open eateries use only electricity/clean fuel gas appliances.
- Ensure uninterrupted power supply to discourage use of DG sets.
- Stop use of diesel generators except for emergency and essential reasons as prescribed (CAQM Direction No. 57).
- For Industrial use, allow regulated use of D.G. sets in accordance to direction nos. 54, 55, 56 and 57 issued by the Commission which generally prescribe that industries would regulate use of DG sets and use the same in accordance to direction nos. 54 to 57 dated 08-02-2022 issued by the CAQM which include that while CNG/PNG/LPG Fuel generator sets will be allowed for any sector, diesel generator sets shall be permitted to operate for a maximum for a 2 hours on a per day basis provided that the D.G. sets have been suitably converted to run in a hybrid (70% gas and 30% diesel) mode and are also retrofitted with Emission Control Devices in accordance to CPCB guidelines (minimum 70% capture of PM in D.G. Sets up to 800 KW gross capacity). A detailed log of DG Sets operations has to be maintained.
- Synchronize traffic movements, issue suitable advisories for the general public on air pollution levels and the Do’s and Don’ts for minimizing polluting activities.
- Enhance parking fees to discourage private transport.
- Augment CNG/electric bus and metro services.
- W.A.’s to provide electric heaters during winters to security staff to avoid open burning.
Stage 3 (AQI between 401-450) Severe Air Quality
In addition to implementing the plan suggested for stages I and Stage II:
- Intensify Road sweepings and road washings.
- Intensify public transport services. Introduce differential rates to encourage off peak travel.
- Enforce a strict ban on the construction and Demolition activities in the entire NCR except such activities as have been identified in the notification. (Order no. 66 of CAQM. Links)
- Except as have been exempted, ban all other dust generating and air polluting construction and Demolition activities. Nonpolluting/non dust generating activities such as plumbing works, interior decoration, electrical works and carpentry related works shall be allowed.
- Strictly enforce closure/ban of industries not running on approved fuels in areas having PNG supply.
- For Industries in areas not having a PNG supply and not using approved fuel to operate only 05 days a week including Sugar and Distillery up to 31/12/2022 only.
- With effect from 1.1.2023 close all industries not running on approved fuel.
- Close brick kilns, Hot mix plants not operating on fuels as prescribed in the approved fuels list. (List of Approved Fuels)
- Close down operation of stone crushers
- Ban mining and associated industries in NCR.
- Impose restrictions on use of BS III petrol and BS IV Diesel.
Stage 4 (AQI >450) Severe + Air Quality
In addition to enforcing the action points from stage I to III as above, the following recommendations have been made.
- Stop entry of trucks into Delhi except those operating on CNG/Electricity or carrying essential commodities.
- Ban on plying of Delhi registered medium goods vehicles and Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) in Delhi.
- Ban on plying of 4-wheeler diesel LMV’s in NGT of Delhi and Districts of NCR bordering Delhi except BS-VI vehicles and vehicles used for essential/emergency services.
- Close down all industries, even in areas which do not have PNG infrastructure and supply if they are not operating on approved fuels. (List of Approved Fuels). Milk and Dairy units and units manufacturing lifesaving drugs, medicines or medical equipment to be exempt.
- Ban construction and Demolition Activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, fly over, over bridges, power transmission lines, pipelines etc.
- Consider offices to work on 50% attendance.
- Central Government to take a decision on whether employers could be allowed work from home.
The Graded Action plan also prescribes the authorities which have to enforce the recommendations (directions) given in the graded action plan for the NCR at Delhi.