GRAP Stage 4 Implementation in Delhi-NCR Amid Severe Air Pollution
Stringent measures: vehicle bans, construction halts, odd-even scheme, combat air pollution, safeguard residents' health.
In recent times, the National Capital Region (NCR), especially Delhi, has been grappling with a severe air pollution crisis. As the Air Quality Index (AQI) plunged into the 'severe' category, authorities activated stage 4 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to address this pressing issue. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the details of GRAP Stage 4 implementation in Delhi-NCR and what it entails for the region.
The Graded Response Action Plan, commonly known as GRAP, is a systematic strategy developed by the government to combat air pollution in the NCR region. It is divided into several stages, each corresponding to a specific level of pollution. When the AQI reaches the 'severe' category, as it did recently, GRAP Stage 4 comes into play.
Bharat Stage Emission Standards
Before we delve into the specifics of GRAP Stage 4, let's briefly discuss the Bharat Stage (BS) emission standards. These standards are put in place by the Indian government to regulate the emission of air pollutants from motor vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The adoption of cleaner fuels, such as BS-VI, has been a significant step toward reducing air pollution.
BS-VI fuel, with its lower sulfur content (reduced from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm), has been instrumental in curbing vehicular emissions, contributing to improved air quality.
Ban on Diesel Four-Wheelers
One of the prominent measures under GRAP Stage 4 is the ban on diesel four-wheelers, with exceptions for BS-VI vehicles and those used for essential and emergency services. This restriction applies not only to Delhi but also to the NCR districts bordering the capital.
Additionally, all Delhi-registered diesel medium and heavy goods vehicles are prohibited from plying in Delhi unless they are engaged in essential or emergency services. These stringent regulations aim to minimize vehicular emissions, a significant contributor to air pollution.
CAQM invokes 8-point action plan as per Stage-IV of GRAP in the entire NCR with immediate effect.— Commission for Air Quality Management (@CAQM_Official) November 5, 2023
Kindly visit https://t.co/FiyvDbIEXa for details.
Halt on Construction and Demolition Activities
Another crucial aspect of GRAP Stage 4 is the suspension of construction and demolition activities, including those on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines, and power lines. Previously, some of these activities were allowed to continue, but in the face of severe air pollution, a ban is imposed to limit dust and particle emissions.
Implications for Education
The state governments in the NCR region are granted the authority to decide on various measures to address the air pollution crisis. These include the discontinuation of physical classes for students in classes 6 to 9 and class 11, with the possibility of conducting lessons online. Moreover, they can determine whether public, private, and municipal offices should operate at 50% strength, with the remaining employees working from home.
In their pursuit of cleaner air, state governments may consider additional emergency measures. These could involve the closure of colleges and other educational institutions and the suspension of non-emergency commercial activities. The concept of allowing vehicles to operate on an odd-even basis, where vehicles with even-numbered and odd-numbered license plates are allowed on alternate days, may also be adopted.
The central government can play a pivotal role in this regard, making decisions on permitting work from home for employees working in central government offices.
The Delhi government has introduced the odd-even scheme as a means to address the escalating pollution levels. Under this scheme, private vehicles with even-numbered and odd-numbered license plates are allowed to ply on alternate days. This measure aims to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and subsequently lower emissions.
Weather Forecasts and Hope for Improvement
In the fight against air pollution, weather conditions play a significant role. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has cited weather forecasts indicating that the wind speed in the region may improve, with a forecasted speed of around 12 kmph. If the wind speed does indeed pick up in the coming days, the accumulated pollutants in the atmosphere might disperse, providing a glimmer of hope for cleaner air.