Air quality panel revamps plan to check pollution

Ban on BS-IV diesel four-wheelers proposed if air quality index turns ‘severe’

July 14, 2022 02:29 am | Updated 02:29 am IST - New Delhi

Under revised action plan, State governments may consider additional emergency measures such as odd-even scheme to curb vehicular emissions.

Under revised action plan, State governments may consider additional emergency measures such as odd-even scheme to curb vehicular emissions. | Photo Credit: File photo

Emergency measures to control air pollution in Delhi-NCR will now be implemented based on predictions of worsening of air quality, three days in advance, rather than after the air quality deteriorates beyond a particular threshold as was being done until now.

The new measures also include a proposal to ban BS-IV diesel four-wheelers if the air quality index (AQI) turns “severe”.

Following directions from the Supreme Court, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and Adjoining Areas released a revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on Wednesday.

“Actions under Stages II, III and IV shall be invoked at least three days in advance of the AQI reaching to the projected levels of that stage, based on the dynamic model and weather/meteorological forecast to be provided to the Commission,” reads the revised GRAP.

On November 24, the Supreme Court had asked the CAQM to take actions under GRAP based on predictions of air quality rather than waiting for the AQI to get worse.

On November 17,  The Hindu had reported how despite Delhi’s AQI being “severe” for eight out of 10 days after Deepavali, measures under the “emergency” category of GRAP such as closing of schools and banning construction activities were not implemented by the authorities.

But now such a situation will be averted as the measures will be implemented three days in advance.

GRAP is a set of emergency measures to be taken to reduce air pollution depending on the current levels of air pollution. It was notified by the Union Environment Ministry in 2017 to fight air pollution based on the Supreme Court’s directions.

These are not long-term solutions, but short-term measures to provide quick relief from high pollution levels.

New classification

The GRAP is now classified under four different stages of prediction of adverse air quality in Delhi: Stage I - ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II - ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III - ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV - ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI >450).

Under Stage III, the revised GRAP says, “State governments in NCR/GNCTD may impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel LMVs (4-wheeled vehicles).”

But an official of the Commission said it was not mandatory. “NCR States have been implementing GRAP for the past many years and we are leaving this to the discretion of the States whether they want to impose this particular ban,” the official told  The Hindu.

“The State governments may consider additional emergency measures like closure of schools/colleges/ educational institutions, plying of vehicles on odd-even basis etc,” reads a similar direction under Stage IV.

Under Stage IV, there is also a ban on plying of four-wheeler diesel LMVs (Light Motor Vehicle) in Delhi and districts of NCR bordering Delhi, except for BS-VI vehicles and vehicles used for essential and emergency services.

The CAQM said the new policy was a crucial step towards overall amelioration of the air quality of the NCR through differentiated geographical approach and timelines of actions.

“This policy contains sector-wise recommendations for agencies and departments of the Central government, NCR State governments and GNCTD along with the Central Pollution Control Board and the State Pollution Control Boards to prevent, control and abate air pollution in the NCR including industries, vehicles/transport, construction and demolition, dust from roads and open areas, municipal solid waste burning, crop residue burning etc.,” the official statement said.

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