Grap 4 imposed in Delhi, curbs on diesel vehicles as AQI dips to 'severe plus' | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Grap 4 imposed in Delhi, curbs on diesel vehicles as AQI dips to 'severe plus'

Nov 06, 2023 04:30 AM IST

The move comes as Delhi's air quality remains in the "severe" zone for the fourth consecutive day.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) invoked stage 4 of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) on Sunday, rolling out heavy diesel-based restrictions, including a ban on diesel-run light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered outside Delhi and those not conforming to BS-6 emission norms from entering the Capital with immediate effect.

New Delhi, India - Nov. 5, 2023: Thick layer of smog on Tilak Marg near Supreme Court as Delhi's air quality remains very poor, in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, November 5, 2023. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
New Delhi, India - Nov. 5, 2023: Thick layer of smog on Tilak Marg near Supreme Court as Delhi's air quality remains very poor, in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, November 5, 2023. (Photo by Arvind Yadav/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The CAQM, a statutory body responsible for developing strategies to combat pollution in the region, invoked Grap stage 4 in addition to stages 1, 2 and 3 to control Delhi’s deteriorating air quality, which was in the “severe” zone for the fourth consecutive day.

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The measures under stage 4 also prevent trucks carrying non-essential goods from entering Delhi, along with a ban on diesel-run medium goods vehicles (MGVs) and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) plying in the city.

The CAQM had banned diesel BS-4 and all BS-3 private cars since November 2, when Grap stage 3 was enforced.

On Sunday evening, the Delhi transport department issued a notification saying it was implementing Grap stage 4 under section 115 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.

Read Here | GRAP 4 explained: 50% work from home, BS-6 car restriction, truck ban amid ‘severe’ Delhi pollution

“There will be no entry for truck traffic into Delhi (except for trucks carrying essential commodities/ providing essential services and all LNG/CNG or electric trucks). There will also be no entry for LCVs registered outside Delhi, other than EVs/CNG/ BS-VI diesel, to enter Delhi, except those carrying essential commodities/providing essential services. There is further a ban on plying of Delhi- registered diesel-operated Medium Goods Vehicles (MGVs) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) in Delhi, except those carrying essential commodities/providing essential services,” the order said, adding that essential commodities included raw vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, eggs, ice and petroleum products.

Taxi drivers’ associations, meanwhile, said the blanket ban does not take into account the pollution under control (PUC) status of individual vehicles, and will impact the livelihood of thousands of drivers. Car operations should not be stopped if they have valid PUC certificates, they said.

“What is the point of issuing the PUC certificates by charging money if they have no utility? Pollution is caused by stubble burning and construction, and vehicles with valid PUC should not be banned. So many taxi operators have been issued challans worth 20,000. Delhi has a large number of commercial vehicles with All India Tourist Permits and this ban disrupts our operations every year,” Sanjay Samrat, who heads the Delhi Taxi and Transporters Association.

According to the action taken report by the transport department, fines worth 2.3 crore have been imposed on BS-3 petrol and BS-4 diesel vehicles between November 2 (when stage 3 was invoked) and November 4.

A total of 1,153 challans were issued out of which 162 were by the transport department and 953 by the traffic police. As many as 114 teams have been deployed to enforce the Grap measures including bike patrolling teams, border entry points, teams dedicated to pollution hotspots, inner/outer ring roads, etc.

Vehicles are currently estimated to be the second-highest pollutants in Delhi, only behind stubble burning. Data from the Decision Support System (DSS), under the ministry of earth sciences, estimated 23.4% of Delhi’s PM2.5 to be coming from stubble burning on Sunday, followed by 14.8% from vehicular emission.

Read Here: At 460, Delhi’s AQI continues to be in ‘severe’ category

This estimate for Monday – issued before these restrictions came into force, said vehicles were likely to contribute by 16.8% on Monday.

Stage 4 has also increased the ambit of Delhi’s ban on construction activities, taking it from the existing ban on private civil constructions to all major public infrastructure projects including flyovers, roads and bridges.

The order issued by the CAQM on Thursday said there is now a ban on “construction and demolition activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, over-bridges, power transmission lines and pipelines”.

Senior officials from the road-owning agencies said they have stopped work but a longer ban might lead to changes in the timelines of projects.

The Public Works Department is currently undertaking construction at multiple road infrastructure projects that are running behind schedule including Punjabi Bagh and Moti Nagar-Ring Road flyovers in west Delhi, an elevated corridor between Anand Vihar and Apsara border in east Delhi, development of an underpass to decongest Mukarba Chowk, underpass at Bhairon Marg, among many others.

A PWD official, requesting anonymity, said that all orders issued by the CAQM will be complied with. “We are hoping that the air quality will improve and it will not be an extended period of construction ban. We have already witnessed delays due to construction being affected in monsoon and longer restrictions in winter will derail the timelines,” the official said.

Punjabi Bagh and Moti Nagar flyovers are already running behind the schedule, due to delays in shifting power lines and heavy traffic. The revised deadline for these projects is January 2024.

Both PWD and Municipal Corporation of Delhi officials from the engineering departments said they have not yet received the construction ban order. “The length of the ban will impact many projects,” an MCD official said.

A senior PWD official said that the long construction bans in the past have led to the migration of labourers outside of Delhi. “The rhythm of the project gets disrupted and labour migrates during these bans. Once the ban is lifted, it takes weeks to bring back a normal pace of work. Contractors have repeatedly sought extensions and then went into arbitration citing the government’s construction ban,” the official added.

The Delhi Metro’s Phase 4 construction, however, will not be impacted by the order. A DMRC spokesperson said, “We will comply with all government guidelines. However, railway projects have not been banned in the latest order.”

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai had said the government will call a high-level meeting on Monday to take stock of the deteriorating AQI and effectively implement stage 4. The government will also take a call on additional measures under stage 4, including allowing 50% of government employees to work from home, shutting down physical classes for Class 6 and above, and enforcing the odd-even scheme.

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