The Centre's action plan to curb air pollution in the national capital will come into force on Sunday (October 1). The Graded Response Action Plan is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in the Delhi-NCR region in the winter season.
The Commission for Air Quality Management, an autonomous body tasked with improving air quality in Delhi and the adjoining areas, had made crucial changes to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) last year and again in July this year.
The new changes include strict restrictions on the plying of overaged vehicles and a complete ban on the use of coal and firewood in eateries, restaurants and hotels when the air quality index (AQI) breaches the 200 mark. BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers will be immediately banned in Delhi and Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar if the Air Quality Index (AQI) crosses the 400 mark.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a statutory body formed under an Act in 2021, had amended the GRAP in July last year to ensure proactive implementation of anti-air pollution steps based on forecasts up to three days in advance.
Earlier, the authorities would implement these measures, including banning construction and demolition works, entry of high-emission vehicles and the use of coal and firewood, only after the pollution level touched a particular threshold. The GRAP for the National Capital Region (NCR) is classified under four different stages of adverse air quality in Delhi: 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).
The revised GRAP recommends strict enforcement of the orders of the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal on overaged diesel and petrol vehicles under Stage 1. It also calls for a complete ban on the use of coal and firewood in eateries, restaurants and hotels as soon as the AQI crosses the 200 mark. Earlier, the authorities would implement this measure under Stage 2 (AQI above 300). New steps suggested as part of the revised GRAP include "strict action to curb air pollution at all identified hotspots in the region under Stage 2".
Under Stage 3, states will have to impose strict restrictions on the plying of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in Delhi and Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar. Authorities may discontinue physical classes in schools for children up to Class V in such a scenario, the CAQM suggested.
At AQI above 450, four-wheelers registered outside Delhi, other than electric vehicles and those using CNG and BS-VI diesel, will not be permitted to enter Delhi. However, those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services are exempt. All other existing measures taken under different stages of GRAP will continue.
(With inputs from PTI)