Delhi: Worsening air quality, SC-appointed panel calls for tough action

The EPCA has been given the responsibility to implement the different categories of the GRAP.

Delhi: Worsening air quality, SC-appointed panel calls for tough action

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) on Friday alarmed with the air pollution in Delhi and the neighbouring states, asked 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, in its first meeting on GRAP, EPCA refrained from strict enforcements, like banning the diesel generators and hiking the parking fee - the measures that fall under the "very poor" category. This is to give 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. Further, it 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 told media.

EPCA head Bhure Lal in the meeting raised concern that the "smog situation" that gripped Delhi in November 2016 should not be repeated again.

EPCA also observed that the air quality in Delhi and NCR is "already beyond poor" and 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.

The solutions for "very poor" situation of air pollution include ban on 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", solutions include a ban on garbage burning, enforcing all pollution control measures in brick kilns, industries and power plants and imposing heavy fine on violators.

The set of actions during emergency situation includes implementation of the "odd-even" scheme and shutting of construction work if PM 2.5 crosses 300 units (micrograms per cubic metre) or PM 10 crosses the 500 mark.