New Delhi: A graded response action plan has been notified by the union environment ministry to deal with air pollution in the National Capital Region, the Indian Express reported. But as per the report, the Delhi government is yet to receive the notification.
With the city seeing alarming levels of air pollution far above the UN prescribed standards in the weeks after Diwali, a Supreme Court bench headed by former chief justice T.S. Thakur had suggested that the possibility of implementing a graded response plan be explored to deal with the ‘public health emergency’. Such graded systems to control air pollution were implemented in other cities of the world, including Beijing and Singapore, where depending on pollution levels, vehicular traffic was shut down.
According to NDTV, the plan envisages many other emergency measures being implemented, including the closure of schools and power plants, as well as advisories being issued asking people to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement.
On December 2, the Supreme Court had approved the graded action plan submitted to it by the Central Pollution Control Board.
According to NDTV, the Centre, on January 16, empowered the Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA) to enforce such a system of response, suggesting that the odd-even scheme might be put in place and construction activities will be stopped if air quality stay at emergency levels for more than 48 hours. The Hindu reported that the graded action plan will be implemented if PM2.5 levels stay over 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre.
However, Delhi government officials reportedly told the Indian Express that there are no plans to implement odd-even soon.
Other measures were also being discussed to curb pollution, such as cutting down bus rates by 70% (though this was not considered financially feasible) and discouraging people from using diesel generators, close stone-crushers and the like.
Sunita Narain, of the Centre for Science and Environment and a member of the EPCA told NDTV that the graded response action plan was a very big step in keeping air pollution in check while Greenpeace told Scroll that this was the only logical step given the the alarming levels of pollution Delhi is susceptible to.
The Delhi government has twice implemented the odd-even scheme last year – in January (for a 15-day trial period) and April (for one month) – to combat air pollution and traffic woes in the city.
(with PTI inputs)