Measures under ‘stage-1’ of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) will be enforced in the national capital region with immediate effect, according to an order issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) Wednesday.
The order comes after the air quality deteriorated to be in the ‘poor’ category in Delhi on Wednesday. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) bulletin, the AQI in Delhi on Wednesday was 211. AQI between 201 and 300 is considered to be ‘poor’. The AQI in other parts of the NCR, like Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad, was also in the ‘poor’ category on Wednesday, having deteriorated from the ‘moderate’ category on Tuesday.
This is the first time that measures under the revised GRAP are being enforced this season. According to the order issued by the CAQM: “It was noted that there has been a sudden dip in air quality parameters in the last 24 hours in the region which led to the AQI for Delhi moving into the “POOR” category. While this is likely to be a localised influence and the forecasts do not predict any further deterioration, in an effort to maintain the AQI in the moderate category, as a precautionary measure, the sub-committee decided that ALL actions as envisaged under Stage I of the GRAP -‘Poor’ Air Quality (DELHI AQI ranging between 201-300), be implemented in right earnest by all the agencies concerned, with immediate effect in the NCR.”
The measures that kick in with immediate effect include stopping all construction and demolition activities with a plot size of 500 square metres or more which have not been registered on the web portals of the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for monitoring of dust mitigation measures. Other measures include ensuring mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on roads, enforcing guidelines on the use of anti-smog guns at construction sites, enforcing the ban on open burning of waste and PUC (pollution under control norms) for vehicles. The ban on firecrackers is also to be strictly enforced and DISCOMS are to minimise power supply disruptions.
These measures are to be enforced by the pollution control boards, the local bodies and other agencies and departments including the Transport Department.
The revised GRAP also contains measures to be taken by the public: keeping engines of vehicles properly tuned, turning off the engines at red lights, keeping PUC certificates up to date, maintaining proper tyre pressure in vehicles, and not disposing of waste in open spaces.
Last year, a delayed withdrawal of the southwest monsoon meant that Delhi saw its first ‘poor’ air day only on October 16. This year, the SAFAR forecasting system has said that the withdrawal of the monsoon will make the atmosphere stable a little earlier, leading to “mild deterioration” of the AQI earlier than last year.
A forecast issued by the Air Quality Early Warning System on Wednesday said that the AQI would remain in the ‘moderate’ to the lower end of the ‘poor’ category on Wednesday and Thursday. The air quality could improve but remain in the ‘moderate’ category on Friday, going by the forecast.