In response to the worsening air quality and environmental concerns, the Delhi government recently conducted a meeting to discuss the implementation of stricter measures as part of the final phase of the air pollution control strategy.
The Commission for Air Quality Management, recognizing the severe air quality situation in Delhi and its surrounding areas, has activated the fourth stage of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). While these stringent measures come into effect, the provisions from stages 1, 2, and 3 will continue to be enforced in the National Capital Region.
What is GRAP Stage 4?
The fourth stage of GRAP introduces an eight-point action plan aimed at curbing air pollution. Some key measures in this stage include:
- Restricting Truck Entry: All trucks, except LNG/CNG trucks and those engaged in essential services, are barred from entering Delhi.
- Limiting Diesel Vehicles: Delhi-registered diesel-operated Medium Goods Vehicles (MGVs) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) within the national capital are prohibited, except for those transporting essential goods or providing essential services.
- Education Measures: Authorities in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) are empowered to decide on transitioning students in classes VI to IX and class XI to online classes. This move ensures that educational activities are not hampered due to pollution.
- Work-from-Home: State governments are granted the authority to make decisions regarding work-from-home arrangements to reduce the need for employees to commute in heavily polluted conditions.
GRAP Stages Overview:
GRAP classifies its actions into four stages, each corresponding to specific Air Quality Index (AQI) categories. These stages are as follows:
- Stage I (Poor): AQI range 201-300
- Stage II (Very Poor): AQI range 301-400
- Stage III (Severe): AQI range 401-450
- Stage IV (Severe Plus): AQI above 450
Guidelines Issued by the Government:
To address the critical air quality situation, the government has issued a set of guidelines as part of GRAP Stage 4. These measures include:
- Restricting Truck Traffic: Entry of most trucks into Delhi is banned, except for those carrying essential goods or providing essential services, along with LNG/CNG/electric trucks.
- Diesel Vehicle Limitations: Delhi-registered diesel-operated Medium Goods Vehicles (MGVs) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) are prohibited within Delhi, except when engaged in essential services.
- Halt on C&D Activities: Construction and demolition (C&D) activities are suspended in linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, pipelines, etc.
- Education Adaptations: State authorities can decide to shift students in classes VI to IX and class XI to online classes to ensure educational continuity.
- Work-from-Home Options: The central government may allow work-from-home arrangements for employees in central government offices.
- Emergency Measures: State governments are encouraged to consider additional emergency measures such as closing colleges/educational institutions and non-essential commercial activities. Other actions, like odd-even vehicle registration-based mobility restrictions, may be implemented.
In light of these measures, vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, or chronic health conditions are advised to minimize outdoor activities and stay indoors whenever possible.
These steps are critical to combat air pollution and safeguard public health during times of deteriorating air quality.