Anti-pollution measures to continue after Grap deadline
With the current pollution cycle nearing its end, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-mandated Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) for ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ air quality is scheduled to be lifted on March 15.Updated: Mar 14, 2019 03:01 IST
With the current pollution cycle nearing its end, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)-mandated Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) for ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ air quality is scheduled to be lifted on March 15. However, reports of alarming pollution levels in the last six months have persuaded civic authorities to continue implementing routine measures even after the Grap is lifted.
ND Vashisht, chief engineer, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG), said, “Activities such as mechanised sweeping of roads, identifying and fixing problems of road dust, water sprinkling and removal of abandoned construction waste will continue after the official Grap measures are relaxed.”
Every winter, the Supreme Court-appointed Environmental Pollution Control Authority (Epca) makes it mandatory for cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) to implement certain activities to curb air pollution, as prescribed in the Grap. These measures are meant to be implemented as a matter of course between October 15 and March 15, the official length of the winter pollution cycle.
Amit Khatri, deputy commissioner, Gurugram, said “We understand that air pollution is a year-round issue, and not simply a winter problem. I will be arranging a meeting around March 20 with civic bodies such as MCG, GMDA (Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority), traffic police and HSPCB (Haryana State Pollution Control Board) to discuss long-term solutions outside of the Grap.”
The meeting is being convened at the behest of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who alluded in the recent GMDA executive meeting to a report that ranked Gurugram as the most polluted city in the world, with regards to PM2.5 pollutants.
Experts have said that simply sprinkling water and sweeping roads in isolation will not help improve the situation. “Vehicular congestion and construction are much bigger contributors of PM2.5 and need to be tackled with preventive policies, not by reacting to the situation as the Grap does,” Sachin Panwar, an air quality consultant, said.
To this, V Umashankar, CEO, GMDA, said, “We will be adding 150 buses to our Gurugaman fleet in the next six months to help ease the load on vehicular traffic.” Umashankar also said the GMDA will carry out its own road sweeping and water sprinkling exercises to support the MCG, in addition to setting up a network of low-cost air monitoring devices.
Data from these will be made available in real-time on the GMDA website, and can be used by other civic authorities such as MCG and HSPCB, to identify problem areas and find appropriate solutions. “This is not something they have been able to do yet,” Umashankar added, but did not specify a date by when the devices will be deployed.
Vashisht also clarified that construction activities will be allowed to continue to round-the-clock after the Grap protocol has been relaxed. “But the construction waste generated will be dealt with by our mobile construction waste units. One of them has already been handed over to us by the concessionaire and the other is expected by December.”