Commuters protect themselves from the cold at Akshardham on Tuesday morning.(HT Photo)
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Delhi to get its first bi-weekly pollution action plans by February

The plans, which would suggest pre-emptive measures, would not just forecast how pollution could spike in the next fortnight, but would also tell which areas would encounter higher spikes among other things.
By Joydeep Thakur | Hindustan T imes, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 09, 2019 12:23 PM IST

Scientists from IIT-Delhi are working on bi-weekly action plans to help authorities fight pollution in the national capital, particularly during the winter when air quality dips to abysmal levels, officials said.

The plans, which would suggest pre-emptive measures, would not just forecast how pollution could spike in the next fortnight, but would also tell which areas would encounter higher spikes, sources which needs to be controlled during that period, measures that should be enforced and by what percent the pollution could go down if the plan is implemented.

“The plans would be submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) at least a week in advance so that authorities get the time to take decisions and act on it. The measures suggested for every fortnight would change according to forecast and the probable pollution sources,” said Sri Harsha Kota, assistant professor at civil engineering department of IIT-Delhi, who specialises in developing air quality models.

Officials familiar with the matter said the first plan is expected to be submitted by February 2019. The project is being funded by the CPCB from the ‘Environment Protection Charge’ that is collected from heavy duty diesel vehicles. While the scientists had initially planned to restrict the project to Delhi, the CPCB has urged to cover the adjacent towns of NCR as well.

Scientists would take into account the latest emission inventory report of Delhi prepared by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune under the Union ministry of earth sciences. Three-years’ data from the India Meteorological Department and National Physical Laboratory would be then fed into a US atmospheric dispersion modelling system to forecast how pollution could rise over the fortnight, the probable pollution hotspots and the top sources. Pollution data of that fortnight from preceding years would be used to validate the forecast and action plans.

“Based on these forecasts, we would prepare biweekly or fortnight action plans primarily targeting the PM2.5 levels in the pollution hotspots. The plans would also try to tell by what percent the pollution could drop if the measures are implemented,” said Mukesh Khare, a professor at IIT-Delhi and coordinator of Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air.

The measures that would be suggested would be lifted from the Graded Response Action Plan. The plans would however be different from GRAP because while GRAP is a general emergency response plan for entire National Capital region and steps mentioned under the GRAP come into play when pollution has already spiked, the bi-weekly plans would suggest pre-emptive measures targeted to bring down pollution in hotspots.

“As the plans would not just forecast spikes in pollution levels but would also suggest measures that need to be taken, it would be more scientific. We would be better equipped to take informed decisions,” said a senior official of the CPCB.

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