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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.