Delhi, the national capital of India, witnessed a concerning deterioration in its air quality on Wednesday, breaching the 400-mark on the Air Quality Index (AQI) scale, as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The severity of the situation prompted a response from the central government, which is closely monitoring the air quality before considering the implementation of stricter measures under Stage 3 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The AQI scale, ranging from 0 to 500, categorizes air quality into different levels of severity. A score below 100 is considered ‘good,’ 100 to 200 is ‘moderate,’ 200 to 300 is ‘poor,’ 300 to 400 is ‘very poor,’ and 400 to 500 or above is labeled ‘severe.’ Delhi’s breach of the 400-mark highlights the urgent need for intervention to address the alarming levels of pollution.
GRAP is a comprehensive strategy designed to combat air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). It outlines a series of measures and restrictions that can be implemented based on the severity of air quality. The plan comprises multiple stages, each with specific actions to be taken to mitigate pollution.
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In response to the very poor air quality, the central government has chosen a cautious approach, opting to monitor the situation before deciding on the implementation of Stage 3 restrictions. The decision is based on forecasts indicating a potential improvement in the air quality scenario.
A sub-committee of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) took stock of the current air quality scenario, meteorological conditions, and projected AQI by authorities such as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The committee unanimously decided to monitor the situation for a brief period, keeping Stages I and II restrictions in place, subject to ongoing evaluation.
Stage 3 restrictions under GRAP involve stringent actions aimed at curbing pollution. These include a ban on non-essential construction activities and the operation of BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers in Delhi-NCR. Additionally, Stage 3 imposes a complete ban on diesel generators, while certain industries face restrictions on the use of coal and firewood.
The GRAP restrictions, previously lifted on January 18 due to improved air quality, may be reinstated based on the evolving scenario. The government’s commitment to closely monitoring the situation reflects a dynamic approach to addressing air pollution, with decisions grounded in scientific forecasts and expert evaluations.
As Delhi grapples with the challenges of air quality, the implementation of GRAP serves as a crucial tool in the ongoing battle against pollution. Balancing economic activities with environmental conservation remains a priority, emphasizing the need for sustained efforts to create a healthier and cleaner environment for the residents of Delhi and the broader NCR region.