Grap measures to tackle ‘very poor’ air quality kick in today, use of generator sets banned
With the air quality in the national capital and its adjoining areas slowly going south, emergency measures under the graded response action plan (Grap) will kick in on Tuesday. This includes a ban on diesel generator (DG) sets in Delhi as well as in its vicinity towns.
The air quality has been in the ‘poor’ category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s air quality index (AQI), over the past five days and is likely to slip into ‘very poor’ category by Tuesday, experts said.
The Grap, drawn up in 2017, defines specific measures to tackle different levels of air pollution. The SC-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (Epca), which enforces the Grap, Monday said while measures under ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ levels of air pollution are already in force, those to tackle ‘very poor to severe’ air quality will kick in from October 15.
Delhi sees a rise in pollution during this time of the year owing to a change in meteorological conditions, combined with local emissions and the effects of crop residue burning in neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab.
“We have asked Delhi and all NCR towns to issue directions regarding a ban on DG sets from Tuesday, except for services falling in list of ‘exclusions’. Even though air is not that bad at present, it is likely to deteriorate over the next few days. We are taking these preventive measures in order to stop the air quality from slipping further,” Sunita Narain, Epca member, said.
“While crop residue burning is an episodic activity and does contribute to air pollution in Delhi, at least 80% of the pollution is from local sources, which need to be cut down,” she said.
Until last year, the ban on DG sets was applicable only in Delhi since NCR towns face frequent power cuts that impact essential utilities such as elevators in high-rises. This year, it will be applicable to the vicinity towns of Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Gurugram, Sonepat, Panipat and Bahadurgarh as well.
The ban comes with exemptions on emergency services such as running elevators during power outages in housing societies and medical facilities, among others.
The Epca had asked NCR towns to draw up a plan to ensure 24x7 power supply during this period. When asked, Haryana officials, however, said it was difficult to enforce the ban in their cities as some sectors in Gurugram (sectors 1-58) are not connected to the power grid and are completely dependent on DG sets for their power supply.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had last week issued directions regarding a ban on generator sets run on diesel, kerosene or petrol. It had issued a list of exemptions that included emergency and essential services.
Besides these measures, agencies have been asked to step up night patrolling and monitoring of 13 identified pollution hotspots to prevent burning of waste or the use of unapproved fuels.
“While incidents of garbage burning have come down in hotspots such as Bawana, Narela and Mundka, new hotspots — Mandoli in Delhi and others in NCR— are emerging. Constant efforts are needed to check these activities,” Bhure Lal, chairperson, Epca, said.
According to the CPCB data, the 24-hour average AQI of Delhi, till 4pm Monday, was 252, in the poor category on a scale of 0 to 500, with 0 being the least polluted and 500 the most severe. This is slightly better than Sunday’s AQI of 270.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a unit under Union ministry of earth sciences, in a statement issued on Monday said, “So far, the impact of stubble burning on the overall air quality in Delhi has been around 8%. Air quality is likely to deteriorate from the fourth week of October, when the temperature will dip and that, coupled with calm winds, will not allow the dispersion of pollutants.”