SC-appointed panel calls for tough action over Delhi’s poor air quality

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New Delhi, Jan 21: Taking serious note on the air pollution in Delhi and the neighbouring states, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) on Friday directed authorities to immediately enforce the graded response action under “very poor” category for Delhi and “moderate poor” for NCR.

“Air quality for Delhi is very poor. Measures falling under this category of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) have to be taken,” EPCA member and head of Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) Sunita Narain said.

However the EPCA, , in its first meeting on GRAP has not enforced strict measures like banning the diesel generators and hiking the parking fee — the measures that come under the “very poor” category.

The EPCA  has given enough time to the authorities and people to get prepared.

However, It was decided to levy heavy fines on the violators, such as wrong parking.

In the meeting, it was also decided to completely revamp the brick kilns to reduce the air pollution by the next winters through essential low-cost methods.

“There are many brick kilns in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana, which have not yet adopted to the low-polluting methods, such as zig-zag chimneys. From now on, the authorities concerned will work on that,” an EPCA member informed.

EPCA head Bhure Lal in the meeting also asserted that the “smog situation” that gripped Delhi in November 2016 should not be repeated again.

Taking cognizance of the air quality in Delhi and NCR which is  “already beyond poor”, the EPCA has decided to enforce moderate poor category in the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, unless the task force formed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) starts providing the forecast for air pollution.

The EPCA has been given the responsibility to implement the different categories of the GRAP. The enforcement has to be done through different government offices, including state and central pollution control boards, state secretaries, transport department and the civic bodies.

There are various categories under the GRAP, which applies when particulate matters — PM 10 and PM 2.5 (particles in air with diameter less than 10 and 2.5 mm) — are pushed beyond a limit.

For very poor, the PM 2.5 ranges between 121-250 units or PM 10 level is between 351-430 units. For moderate poor, the PM 2.5 range between 61 and 90 or PM 10 between 101 and 250 units, and for poor category, PM 2.5 should range between 91 and 120 and PM 10 between 251-350.

Measures under “very poor” include banning the use of diesel generator sets, enhancing parking fee by 3-4 times, increasing bus and metro services by augmenting contract buses and increasing frequency of services, stopping use of coal or firewood in hotels and open eateries and others, including warning people from going out.

For moderate poor category, actions include a ban on garbage burning, enforcing all pollution control measures in brick kilns, industries and power plants and imposing heavy fine on violators.

It also talks about ensuring that fly ash is watered every alternate day during the summers, firecrackers are banned and the apex court’s order to ban the entry of trucks registered after 2005 are enforced.

The measures during emergency situation includes implementation of the “odd-even” scheme and stopping of construction work if PM 2.5 crosses 300 units (micro grams per cubic metre) or PM 10 crosses the 500 mark.

 Wefornews Bureau

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