Delhi grapples with GRAP II as air quality turns ‘very poor’

Pollution curbs under Stage II of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) came into force in Delhi

NEW DELHI | Updated: 17 February, 2023 11:23 pm IST
Delhi’s 24-hour average air quality index rose to 270 on Thursday

The smog is in the air as the air quality in Delhi turns “very poor’ forcing the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to implement pollution curbs under Stage II of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The restrictions under GRAP Stage II include a ban on the non-essential use of diesel generator sets and the use of coal and firewood in tandoors in hotels, restaurants and open eateries. Other features in Stage II include recommending an increase in parking fees to discourage the use of private vehicles, and augmenting bus and Metro services.

CAQM ordered the implementation of GRAP Stage II, in addition to the restrictive actions mentioned in Stage I of GRAP, with immediate effect in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) to avoid any further deterioration of air quality in the region.

A 12-point action plan is to be implemented by different agencies and the Pollution Control Boards of the NCR and DPCC. The subcommittee, which held a meeting recently, advised citizens to commute on public transport and avoid dust-generating construction activities, among other measures.

However, environmentalists asked pollution watchdogs to properly implement the measures and not just make announcements.

Speaking with The New Indian, environmentalist Varun Gulati said, “Along with GRAP Stage II, a 12-point action plan is also applicable. But unfortunately, there is no mention of the thousands of industrial units operating on coal and wood. Coal and woods are the primary fuel which emits several hazardous gasses and is directly responsible for increased pm (particulate matter) in ambient air quality.”

“One can find these units, which use coal and wood in a boiler, operational in Delhi’s Roop Nagar, Ghaziabad’s Tronica City and Arya Nagar, Sonipat’s Piao Maniari Kundli, Faridabad and Panipat,” Gulati added.

Environmental expert, Suhil Dahiya, observed, “It is a good thing that based on the forecast, now we can communicate the implementation of different stages of GRAP. But it should not stop at the announcement of the implementation of these stages, rather, it is important to ensure the measures are implemented on the ground.”

“It is here that CAQM, CPCB, and others should play a crucial role in directing the polluting industries and activities to reduce their emission. CAQM must also direct the highly polluting industries to reduce their emission levels,” Dahiya added.

While the government agencies need to be more active in the implementation of the rule, Dahiya also said that citizens should be more responsible and sensitive to the issue.

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