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Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP): Explained

From 15 October, some stricter measures to fight against air pollution will come in to force in Delhi and in National Capital Region (NCR) towns as a part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). It will be in effect for three years in Delhi and NCR.

Therefore it has been directed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to implement air pollution control measures under “very poor” and “severe” category air quality of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from 15 October, 2020.

Diesel generator sets can no longer be used in Delhi and NCR towns of Noida, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon from 15 October, 2020. In an emergency and essential services, it can only be used and this is an exception.

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Night patrolling will also be done by the Pollution control authorities to check dust and industrial emissions and also the burning of waste. Also, it has been directed to sprinkle water frequently on roads so that dust will settle and also for mechanised sweeping.

It is expected that levels of pollution will rise as winters are approaching and more measures will also come into force but it depends upon the quality of air. All these measures are part of GRAP.

What is the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)?

In 2016, the Supreme Court approved it and the plan was prepared by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).  The institutionalised measures will be taken when the air quality deteriorates.

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How GRAP will work?

As an emergency measure, GRAP works. The plan does not include action by several state governments that to be taken throughout the year to tackle the industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.

The plan is incremental in nature and when the quality of air moves from “Poor” to “Very Poor” the measures listed under both the sections would have to follow.

If the quality of air reaches severe+ stage then GRAP consists of some extreme measures like shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.

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What are the measures that will be taken under GRAP?

1. Severe+ or in an Emergency

(PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours)

– Entry of trucks into Delhi will be stopped except the essential commodities.

– Construction work will also be stopped.

– For private vehicles odd/even scheme will be implemented and minimise exemptions.

– There will be a task force to decide any additional steps like shutting of schools.

2. Severe

(PM 2.5 over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m.)

– Brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers will be closed.

– Power generation maximisation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal.

– With certain differential rates public transport will be encouraged.

–  Mechanised cleaning of the road more frequently and a sprinkling of water.

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3. Very Poor

(PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.)

– Diesel generator sets will be stopped to use.

– Parking fees will be increased by 3-4 times.

– Bus and Metro services will be increased.

– To discourage the burning of fires in winter via Apartment owners by providing electric heaters during winters.

– Advisories will be provided to people suffering from respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement.

4. Moderate to poor

(PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.)

– For garbage, heavy fines.

– In brick kilns and industries, Close/enforce pollution control regulations will be there.

– Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling.

– To enforce a ban on firecrackers strictly.

How the GRAP has helped?

– The biggest success of GRAP is in fixing accountability and deadlines.

– Executing agencies are clearly marked for each action that has to be taken under a particular air quality category.

– One more step that made a crucial difference and that is like Delhi territory, where a multiplicity of authorities has been a long-standing impediment to effective governance.

In 1998, the EPCA, headed by retired IAS officer Bhure Lal and including members from the Centre for Science and Environment, was constituted by the Supreme Court.

Initially, it was mandated to ensure that Delhi’s bus and auto fleet moves entirely to CNG. In the late 2000s, it was a mammoth task that played a crucial role in cleaning Delhi’s air.

In fact, in several pollution-related matters, the body continues to monitor pollution and assists the Supreme Court.

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