How the Graded Response Action Plan responds to tackle the pollution emergencies?

The Graded Response Action Plan is already been in effect for two years in the National Capital Region (NCR). The plan formulated by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) in consultation with state governments and experts institutionalised measures to be taken when air quality deteriorates.

It is only a stop-gap measure to address emergency situations and does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.

Graded Response Action Plan

Severe+ or Emergency

It is when levels of  PM 2.5 are over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours. Measures to tackle Severe+ or Emergency situations:

  • Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities).
  • Stop construction work.
  • Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions.
  • Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools.

It is when levels of PM 2.5 are over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m. Measures to tackle Severe situation:

  • Close brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers.
  • Maximise power generation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal.
  • Encourage public transport, with differential rates.
  • More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water.
Very Poor

It is when levels of PM2.5 are between 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m. Measures to tackle Very Poor situation:

  • Stop use of diesel generator sets.
  • Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times.
  • Increase bus and Metro services.
  • Apartment owners to discourage burning fires in winter by providing electric heaters during winter.
  • Advisories to people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement.
Moderate to poor

It is when levels of PM2.5 are between 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m. Measures to tackle Moderate to Poor situation:

  • Heavy fines for garbage burning.
  • Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries.
  • Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling.
  • Strictly enforce a ban on firecrackers.

The Graded Response Action Plan has been successful in doing two things that had not been done before:

  • Creating a step-by-step plan for the entire Delhi-NCR region.
  • Getting on board several agencies such as pollution control boards, industrial area authorities, municipal corporations, regional officials of the India Meteorological Department, and others.

The EPCA constituted in 1998 by the Supreme Court to ensure the shift of Delhi’s bus and auto fleet to CNG, a mammoth task that was among the most crucial ones in cleaning Delhi’s air in the late 2000s. It continues to monitor pollution and assists the Supreme Court in several pollution-related matters.


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