A Delhi traffic policeman wearing mask in Delhi during the persistent smog of November 2016.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
A Delhi traffic policeman wearing mask in Delhi during the persistent smog of November 2016.(Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Delhi finally has an action plan to combat air pollution, here’s how you can help

The Graded Response Action Plan designed to control air pollution in Delhi-NCR comes into force today. Different agencies have their roles carved out but individuals can chip in too
HIndustan Times, New Delhi | By Joydeep Thakur & Ritam Halder
UPDATED ON OCT 17, 2017 11:13 AM IST

The stage is all set. The Graded Response Action Plan, Delhi-NCR’s answer to combat air pollution that assumes apocalyptic proportions during this time of the year, will come into force for the first time from Tuesday.

Hindustan Times finds out about the plan, how it will be implemented over the next four months, the roles of agencies and their preparedness, what NCR cities are doing to implement it and how you can make a difference with your suggestions and complaints.

How it will be implemented

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will monitor air quality from various stations located across Delhi-NCR. Daily reports will be sent to the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), the implementing authority of the plan, which will take a decision on the future course of action.

If data of any station shows a sudden spike in pollution level, a team will rush to the spot and try to analyse the reason. Accordingly, action would be taken and instructions issued.

The CPCB has directed all state pollution control boards of NCR states to form teams that will fan out and flag violations. The CPCB has formed around 40 teams that are visiting various parts of Delhi alone.

“The chief secretaries of NCR states have been designated as nodal officers. We will direct them to take immediate action if any particular area shows a spike in air pollution,” said EPCA chairman Bhure Lal.

What Delhi agencies are doing

The transport department is checking buses entering the three inter-state bus terminals for valid pollution under control papers and penalising violators. A special campaign will be launched after Diwali to randomly check commercial vehicles in the city. The officials will check if PUC centres are operating properly. Buses on some routes with low ridership could be diverted to cater to busy stretches.

The Badarpur Thermal power station will be shut from Tuesday after the FIFA U17 World Cup matches end in Delhi. Brick kilns without the less-polluting zig-zag technology have already been told to shut.

“There is no question of any department not following the GRAP as it is a Supreme Court direction. Seeing the pollution levels, whatever EPCA directs us, our departments shall do,” said Delhi government spokesperson Nagender Sharma.

What you can do

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee is setting up a control room. People can lodge complains at 9717593501 and 9717593574 through WhatsApp or the SAMEER app of CPCB. An email address will also be created.

“Complaints on our numbers would be diverted to the CPCB, which will take action,” said a senior official of the DPCC.

Response of states

As the GRAP aims to curb pollution levels across NCR, neighbouring states have also initiated a series of steps.

Gurgaon is increasing the frequency of mechanised road cleaning, sprinkling water on road, stopping use of coal or firewood in hotels and open eateries, constituting teams to stop garbage burning and appointing nodal officers.

Haryana State Pollution Control Board officials said they already issued notices to shut down all polluting brick kilns.

While Haryana PCB officials detected 430 cases of stubble burning, farmers are being encouraged not to burn crop residue.

“This year we expect a 70% cut in pollution over last year,” said S Narayanan, member secretary, Haryana Pollution Control Board.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Gautam Budh Nagar district administration has been holding weekly meetings every Friday.

A total of 281 industries have been identified as hazardous waste-generating industries, out of which 60 are closed. There are regular site inspections to monitor waste disposal of these.

In Ghaziabad, enforcement action is more or less restricted to penal action against offenders.

“We conduct checks on polluters, especially those burning garbage. We collected nearly R25-30 lakh as fine over the past couple of months. We have procured four new road sweeping machines,” said CP Singh, municipal commissioner.

(with inputs from Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad)

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