Delhi air pollution: Officials won’t wait for EPCA order to implement

New Delhi: The emergency action plan to tackle air pollution has been streamlined in Delhi with authorities deciding not to wait for the EPCA’s directions each time pollution turns ‘severe’ or ‘severe plus’.

The Delhi government’s Environment Department today apprised the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority of the decision, which was welcomed by the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the city’s environment secretary Anshu Prakash on Thursday, when air quality had dramatically fallen due to a rapid accumulation of pollutants.

“Next time, as soon as air quality turns severe plus or emergency as defined by the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), we will initiate action listed under the plan. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee will notify the concerned departments,” a government official told EPCA.

EPCA member Sunita Narain lauded the government saying the decision effectively puts the GRAP on auto-mode, something which the EPCA itself has been trying to put into place.

Yesterday, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal had written to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to gear up for another round of tough measures under the “emergency” category of the GRAP keeping in mind the rising pollution levels.

However, the situation has improved since then and air quality is now ‘very poor’ as against yesterday’s ‘severe’ according to the readings of the CPCB.

Under the GRAP, pollution is considered ‘severe plus’ or ’emergency’ when readings of ultrafine particulates PM2.5 or PM10 are above 300 and 500 ug/m3, respectively.

Measures listed under the emergency category are rolled out when these conditions prevail for 48 hours at a stretch.

On the odd-even road rationing measure, which is supposed to be implemented as part of the emergency measures, the EPCA said all major towns of the National Capital Region will be included the next time the scheme is enforced.