New Delhi: The stress is on “seasonal” action plans but not on yearlong collective efforts, environmentalists alleged as the Commission for Air Quality Management Saturday (October 29) directed National Capital Region authorities to immediately implement curbs under stage III of the graded response action plan against air pollution. The restrictions include a ban on construction and demolition activities except for essential projects concerning national security, defence, railways and metro rail among others. The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) also said the authorities might impose restrictions on the plying of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in the NCR considering the worsening air quality.
Environmentalist Bhavreen Kandhari said,
There’s too much stress on seasonal action plans like GRAP, instead of collective will and action throughout the year. We cannot deny that we have been breathing ‘poor’ air quality all year.
Ms Kandhari told PTI that the commission that invoked Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the NCR, “hasn’t intervened in endless construction projects or tree felling” throughout the year. She said,
GRAP isn’t going to do any wonders in such a short duration. It is the all-year emphasis on effective policies and their strict enforcement that will bring the change.
Sunil Dahiya, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said the announcements of different stages of GRAP by CAQM “don’t seem to match” with the action taken on the ground. Mr Dahiya told PTI,
CAQM is a body with the power to regulate and shut down or penalise polluting activities and the ones behind them. But, sadly, all big polluting sources seem to be least bothered and polluting activities aren’t regulated effectively enough to give some respite from hazardous pollution levels.
He claimed that only two thermal power plants “stopped operating on October 14”, even as stage I of GRAP directed strict action against non-compliance of emission norms by thermal power plants on October 5.
Mr Dahiya claimed,
GRAP stage 2 was implemented on October 19 and only one more plant was shut down on October 23. When GRAP stage 3 was announced today, all plants except Dadri and Mahatma Gandhi TPP still operated without effective emission control and no penal action.
Delhi’s 24-hour average air quality index stood at 397 at 4 pm, the worst since January. It was 354 on Thursday, 271 on Wednesday, 302 on Tuesday and 312 on Monday (Diwali).
GRAP is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in the capital and its vicinity according to the severity of the situation.
It classifies the air quality in the Delhi-NCR under four different stages: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI >450).
Under stage III, the authorities have been asked to enforce a strict ban on construction and demolition activities in the NCR, except for essential projects (such as railways, metro, airports, ISBTs, national security/defence-related projects of national importance) and non-polluting activities such as plumbing, carpentry, interior decoration and electrical works.
Brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers not operating on clean fuels, and mining and associated activities in the NCR have also been banned.
State governments in the Delhi-NCR may also impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers under stage III, the CAQM said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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