Delhi-NCR all set to fight choking air pollution this winter, industrial plants may face closure

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which has an advisory for each category of air pollution – emergency, severe, very poor, moderate, poor – will be implemented in Delhi-NCR between October 15 and March 15.

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Delhi and states with territories in the National Capital Region (NCR) are preparing their arsenal to fight choking air pollution this winter.

While the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) formulated by a Supreme Court-mandated panel will kick in from October 15 with measures such as odd-even road-space rationing and shutting of industries as the smog sets in, the Haryana government has also declared tough steps already. Millions struggle with hacking coughs and burning eyes as the air in and around the Capital turns into a grey haze every winter with tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs and cause strokes, heart disease and cancer.

Cracking the whip on those who dangerously pollute the airspace of Haryana during Diwali and the ensuing months, its state environment and pollution ministry has enforced closure of all brick kilns which are not based on zigzag technology in the districts bordering Delhi.

In a zigzag kiln, the bricks are arranged in such a way that the air is forced to follow a zigzag path resulting in cleaner combustion of coal. The state environment ministry is also considering a ban on heavy trucks, closure of educational institutions, corporate houses and construction activities if the level of tiny PM 2.5 particles goes into dark zone, that is above 300 cubic meters.

Dheera Khandelwal, additional chief secretary of environment and pollution in Haryana said the brick kiln order has been enforced from October 1 following following strong recommendation from the Central Pollution Control Board. The board’s regional officers have been asked to send compliance reports to the respective district deputy commissioners and ensure that all unauthorized brick furnaces have been closed.

“We had a bad experience during last winter season with smog appearing in the air of National Capital Region (NCR). The state environment and pollution control board has broader plans this time to prevent rising pollution in the air. We have constituted 16 departments to control air pollution and take appropriate action accordingly,” Khandelwal said. The decision was taken on the heels of the Centre notifying a Graded Response Action Plan to combat air pollution. GRAP, which has an advisory for each category of air pollution – emergency, severe, very poor, moderate, poor – will be implemented in Delhi-NCR between October 15 and March 15.

It is formulated with a color code – red, orange, yellow and green – to better explain to citizens what each air quality number means to them. It also explains the health effects of each. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority- with Centre for Science and Environment’s director general Sunita Narain and ex-bureaucrat Bhure Lal as its chief – prepared the action plan last November when Diwali pollution turned Delhi’s air into a poisonous concoction.

The plan suggests that the controversial odd-even system be implemented during the “severe” and “emergency” categories of air quality.

“There will be off-peak hours, when the parking rates will fall, while during congestion, the charges will be hiked by three to four times. We will have to stop people from using private modes of transport. Here, the odd-even system and carpooling will be a great tool to reduce pollution. We have told the government departments, including the traffic police, to plan adequately for these measures and create public awareness in advance,” Lal said.

The Haryana government’s move on brick kilns could be a big setback for real estate companies with a large number of projects underway in districts like Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonepat, Jhajjar, Palwal and Panipat.

“We could take emergency steps such as closure of educational institutions, corporate houses, construction activities and banning the entry of heavy vehicles if PM 2.5 level goes beyond the 300 mark,” said Vinay Pratap Singh, deputy commissioner of Gurugram.

“MCG has given strict guidelines to impose parking fee three to four times higher if PM 2.5 level crosses 250.”

Source:- India Today

 

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