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Odd-even may be back on Delhi’s roads and a host of other emergency measures will kick in if pollution levels touch emergency proportions with the Centre entrusting the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA to enforce the graded response plan. Terming air pollution in Delhi and NCR as a “matter of serious concern”, which requires “urgent action”, the Environment Ministry in its notification assigned the task to implement the plan to Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
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“In pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Central Government hereby assigns the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA…” the notification, dated January 12, said.
The comprehensive plan, prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), that focuses on Delhi, was submitted to the Supreme Court on December 2. The apex court had accepted and asked the Centre to notify it.
Once the plan is notified, emergency measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities will be automatically enforced in the city if level of PM 2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre for two consecutive days.
The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre respectively. During ‘very poor’ air quality, diesel generators must be banned and parking free increased by 3-4 times, the plan also recommends.
The plan has enumerated a number of other measures which include closing brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers, intensifying public transport services besides increase in frequency of mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads.
“High level of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region of Delhi has been a matter of serious concern and requires urgent measures to address the issue, particularly with reference to episodic rises in pollution levels,” the notification said.