The air in the National Capital is turning toxic. With air quality levels tumbling to "Poor" in Delhi, diesel generator sets will be banned from October 15. In order to curb the worsening of air pollution levels, towns neighbouring the National Capital Region will implement strategies of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) issued these directions on Thursday to the chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to execute the pollution control measures under GRAP.
According to the ECPA, measures under the "Very Poor" to "Severe" category under GRAP will be enforced from October 15.
In a letter addressed to the chief secretaries, the EPCA chairman Bhure Lal said, “The winter period sees worsening air quality because there is less dispersion, and lower temperatures trap pollutants close to the ground. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that the levels do not rise further.”
Notified by the Union environment ministry in 2017, GRAP is a plan to handle air pollution in the NCR. It contains measures that need to be taken by authorities based on the region’s air quality.
Additionally, large construction projects consisting of highways and Metro, especially in the red and orange zones, will be required to give an undertaking to state pollution control boards to ensure adherence to dust management norms. For industries, using only authorised fuel and operating with prescribed pollution control measures is necessary.
States have also been alerted to take these actions with those that EPCA has already directed them:
During adverse weather conditions and air pollution levels, more measures would be directed, such as closure of power plants that do not adhere to 2017 emission norms, restrain on the use of private transport and ban on construction activities.
Lal also added, “However, we also recognise that co-morbidity is a huge challenge in the pandemic as there is enough evidence that pollution will make Covid-19 more dangerous. Therefore, we must have zero tolerance for air pollution in this period as it will come at a huge human health cost.”