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In this article, Amanjot Singh Chadha of IMS Law College, Noida discusses the legal provisions of the Delhi NCR GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan).

What is GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan)

  • GRAP, Graded Response Action Plan is a plan to combat air pollution of Delhi NCR.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order of November 10, 2016, directed framing and submission of graded response action plan GRAP for various categories of National Air Quality Index (AQI).
  • Finally, on 12 Jan 2017, the ministry of environment forest and climate change provided a notification regarding the GRAP for Delhi NCR.
  • The supreme court mandated EPCA Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority to prepare the GRAP.
  • GRAP laid down a stratified action which is required when the concentration of pollution reaches a certain level.
  • Under GRAP the pollution level is divided into four categories for which actions are required to be taken when the concentration of pollutants, reaches a certain level.
  • This is the first ever plan of its kind that designates short, medium and long-term measures for all key sources of pollution and will help the Delhi NCR region to make a sustained improvement in air quality.
  • These measures can be accessed from the report submitted by the EPCA to honorable Supreme Court.
  • The National AQI  and the likely health impact of the AQI was launched by MOEF&CC
  • The GRAP focuses on taking steps together progressively and actions as pollution cross each level without imposing any strict measures at emergency situations.

The need for GRAP

During the 70’s and 80’s Delhi, the national capital saw an unprecedented growth in population, vehicles and small-scale industries, which caused serious ecological imbalance and environmental degradation. The problem got further aggravated by increasing migration from neighboring states.

Earlier on Dec 29,2015, the Action Plan to deal with Delhi’s air pollution under section 18(1)(b) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1986 and on Nov 2016 under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act 1986.

Because during the first week of November 2016 after Diwali the pollution level of Delhi got into severely alarming situations and the pollution level got so high that severe actions were taken like shutting Badarpur power plant, restricting entry of trucks into Delhi and stopping the construction and on 10 Nov 2016 the Supreme Court directed CPCB and EPCA to frame smog alert system and on 2 Dec 2016 the court asked MOEF&CC to notify the GRAP and on 12 Jan 2017 the GRAP was notified

How graded response action plan works

The MOEF&CC has formed a monitoring committee of seven members headed by Environment Secretary, to formulate short and long-term measures to solve air pollution of Delhi NCR.

The graded measures according to Air Quality Index are listed from public health emergency level to downward. These measures are listed in the lower levels of AQI including Very Poor, Poor, and Moderate. And the actions listed in the poor category need to be implemented throughout the year.

The job of implementation of the action plan is of EPCA under Environment Protection Act 1986 and which will then delegate the responsibility to the concerned departments.

The job of ensuring implementation of the action plan will be EPCA’s, which will delegate the responsibility to the concerned departments. According to EPCA’s report, at least 16 agencies will have to work together to implement the various parts of the plan.

The average concentration of pollutants AQI of the entire city is collected and communicated to EPCA by a task force. And this task force will include officials from Central Pollution Control Board and Indian Meteorological Department

EPCA then ensures the implementation of the graded response action plan and for this it delegates responsibility to 16 agencies which will work together to implement this the concerned department are like Municipal Corporation, Traffic Police, Transport Departments, Residents Welfare Association, Public Works Department, Delhi Transport Corporation, Central Public Works Department, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation etc.

Each body carries its own task and function which has been set to be carried out when EPCA asks it to do.

The idea behind this is to put in place some sort of action in a manner that the level of an emergency situation is never reached. This plan focuses on taking tougher actions progressively as the pollution crosses each level, without waiting for emergency situations to arrive so that some strict measures are imposed to pacify such alarming situation.

In emergency situations, the required measures will be implemented under Air(Prevention & Control of Pollution)Act 1981 and Environment Protection Act 1986.     

For monitoring, the air quality 25 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) are set up in several places of NCR which are as follows.

Air Quality Index Monitoring stations of NCR

17 stations in Delhi.

UP: 3 stations in Noida and Ghaziabad  

Rajasthan: 2 stations – Alwar and Bharatpur

Haryana: 3 stations  – Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rohtak

Table regarding Graded Response Action Plan for reducing air pollution.

When PM2.5 levels cross 300 µg/m3or PM10 levels cross 500 µg/m3 (5 times above the standard) and persist for 48 hours or more – ACTIONS TO TAKE

AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACTION

Stop entry of truck traffic into Delhi (except essential commodities) Municipal Corporations and Traffic Police of Delhi and NCR Towns
Stop construction activities Delhi Pollution Control Committee/Municipal Corporations of Delhi and NCR towns
Introduce odd and even scheme for private vehicles based on license plate numbers and minimize exemptions Secretary cum Commissioner of Transport Department, NCT of Delhi, and Transport Commissioners of NCR towns
Task Force to take decision on any additional steps including shutting of schools

 

Severe level

 

When PM2.5 levels are above 250 µg/m3or PM10 levels are above 430 µg/m Agency responsible/Implementing Agency
Close brick kilns, Hot Mix plants, Stone Crushers Chairpersons Delhi Pollution Control Committee, State Pollution Control 6 Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh / Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner of respective districts
Shut down Badarpur power plant and maximize generation of power from existing natural gas based plants to reduce operation of coal based power plants in the NCR. Chairpersons Delhi Pollution Control Committee, State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh
Intensify public transport services. Introduce differential rates to encourage off-peak travel. Secretary cum Commissioner of Transport Department, NCT of Delhi, and Transport Commissioners of NCR towns Chairperson, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Chairpersons, State Transport Corporations
Increase frequency of mechanized cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads. Identify road stretches with high dust generation. All road owning agencies including Municipal Corporations of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns, Public Works Departments and National Highway Authority of India

 

Very Poor level

 

When PM2.5 levels are between 121-250 µg/m3or PM10 levels are between 351-430 µg/m3 Agency responsible/Implementing Agency
Stop use of diesel generator sets Chairpersons Delhi Pollution Control Committee, State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh
Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times Municipal Commissioner Municipal Corporations of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns
Increase bus and metro services by augmenting contract buses and increasing frequency of service Principal Secretary, Department of Transport of NCT of Delhi Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) Delhi Integrated Multi-modal Transit System Ltd (DIMTS) Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) 7 State Transport Corporations in NCR towns
Stop use of coal/firewood in hotels and open eateries Municipal Corporations of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns
Residential Welfare Associations and individual house owners to provide electric heaters during winter to security staff to avoid open burning by them Resident Welfare Associations
Alert in newspapers/TV/radio to advise people with respiratory and cardiac patients to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement. Alert in newspapers/TV/radio to advise people with respiratory and cardiac patients to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement.
Moderate to poor level
Poor – When PM2.5 levels are between 91-120 µg/m3or PM10 levels are between 251-350 µg/m3 Moderate – When PM2.5 is between 61- 90 µg/m3or PM10 is between 101-250 µg/m3 Agency responsible/Implementing Agency
Stringent enforcement of stopping garbage burning in landfills and other places and impose heavy fines on person responsible Municipal Commissioner Municipal corporations of Delhi and NCR towns
Close/stringent enforcement of all pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries Chairpersons, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh
Stringent enforcement of pollution control in thermal power plants through PCB monitoring Plant in-charge of power plants in NCR, and Delhi Pollution Control Committee and State Pollution Control Board
Do periodic mechanized sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling also on unpaved roads every two days Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Corporations of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns Commissioners, Traffic Police of Delhi and NCR towns to identify roads with heavy traffic and provide information to 8 respective Municipal Commissioners Chief Engineers of officers in charge of CPWD, PWD of Delhi and NCR towns to identify unpaved roads with heavy traffic and provide information to respective Municipal Commissioner
Strict vigilance and no tolerance for visible emissions – stop plying of visibly polluting vehicles by impounding or heavy fine, Strict vigilance and enforcement of PUC norms Commissioner or Officer in Charge, Transport Department and Traffic Police of NCT Delhi and NCR towns
Stringent enforcement of rules for dust control in construction activities and close noncompliant sites Commissioner or Officers in charge of Police Departments of Delhi and NCR towns
Deploy traffic police for smooth traffic flow at identified vulnerable areas Commissioners Traffic Police of Delhi and NCR Towns
Strictly enforce Supreme Court order on diversion of non-destined truck traffic and ensure only trucks registered after 2005 are allowed entry into Delhi Municipal Corporations of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns Traffic Police of NCT of Delhi and NCR towns
Strictly enforce Supreme Court ban on firecrackers Chief Controller of Explosives Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) Commissioner of Officer in charge of licensing in the police departments of Delhi and NCR
Ensure fly ash ponds* are watered every alternate day during summer months (March – May). Plant in charge of Power Plants in Delhi and NCR towns
Information dissemination Social media, mobile Apps should be used to inform people about the pollution levels, contact details of control room, enable them to report polluting activities/sources to the concerned authorities, and actions that will be taken by government based on the level of pollution. Chairpersons, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, State Pollution Control Boards of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh


The Daily alert and Information for action is provided through AQI Air Quality Index and what is the situation last day which is done by CPCB. The Forecasting report on what is the wind speed and direction is shared by MOES and What are the problem areas, based on weekly inspection is done by CPCB and then the reports are sent to all pollution control boards for action and to monitor with local agencies.

The Daily Air Quality Index Report can be checked at https://app.cpcbccr.com/AQI/

Comparison of Delhi NCR with cities (Bejing and Paris) where GRAP has a been implemented

Beijing and Paris, most notably, have implemented graded action plans over the past few years. Paris recently implemented the odd-even road rationing scheme when PM 2.5 levels crossed 95 µg/m³. It also made public transport free to encourage people to leave their vehicles at home.

Several Chinese cities have a road rationing scheme when pollution reaches severe levels. They also shut schools and industries when particulate matter levels stay higher than around 300 µg/m³ for more than two days in a row, and a Red Alert is triggered.

Challenges in implementation

Things which need to be done so that the air pollution levels are brought down:

  • There is a great need for better weather forecasts so that agencies have an advance notice of the measures that need to be taken. As all around the world, where such smog alert systems are in place, a robust and reliable weather forecasting system is essential for action.
  • The other important step which needs to be taken is to have a significantly strengthened system of health advisories to people to take preventive action.
  • There is a huge demand for deterrence and a mechanism should be built and by the court’s direction, such plan should be implemented so that there is some deterrence for the offenders.
  • A far-reaching action is needed to immediately ban pet coke and furnace oil in entire NCR and for this, a strict monitoring of emissions in industrial areas is required.
  • Switching over to gas from traditional sources of energy is required in vehicles power plants and industry. The second transition to natural gas and clean fuel is required further we need a transition to electric vehicles and ensuring supply of power to stop the use of generator sets.
  • An enormous enhancement of public transport within and intercity is required as it will curb down the pollution crisis
  • A massive action plan is required to change the garbage management system and to stop the burning of garbage.

What can you do to stop air pollution

You can forward your complaint against the sale of imported firecracker/illegal/unauthorized burning of waste (plastic/general) in open in NCT of Delhi. By uploading a photograph with address of location regarding illegal/unauthorized burning

At: complaint number (WHATSAPP) 9717593574

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1 COMMENT

  1. [We have now formulated a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and more recently come up with a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for the National Capital Region (NCR). We have automated air quality monitoring networks operating

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