The Centre’s graded response system to tackle air pollution, which proposes emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing scheme and closing schools based on the intensity of the situation, will not be enforced in the national capital this season. Union Environment Minister Anil Dave has said a detailed framework in this regard, which will not be limited to Delhi, will be out in January for its implementation in 2017.
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“We are discussing the possible standards to be set. State Pollution Control Boards are being consulted. The details will be shared in January. In 2017, there should not be blame game among the states on pollution,” Dave said, alluding to the wrangling between Delhi and neighbouring Punjab and Haryana over farm fires.
However, 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. Nearly a month has passed, a period which has also seen the air quality index entering the ‘severe’ zone, but no emergency measure has been imposed in the city, which is among the world’s most-polluted. “The Supreme Court has asked us to notify it under the Environment Protection Act. There is a process involved and that has started. But even if its draft is put out, it has to be kept in public domain for at least two months,” a senior Environment Ministry official said.
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 PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre for two consecutive days. The official said consultations are undergoing on many levels and it will be implemented in “due course of time”. During ‘very poor’ air quality, diesel generators must be banned and parking free increased by 3-4 times, the plan 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.