Why air pollution in Delhi-NCR hasn’t been tackled effectively

We know that Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), devised by the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) appointed by the Supreme Court of India, has not achieved its objective of reducing air pollution of Delhi-NCR.

While stubble burning of rice crop during winter months contributes heavily ( 40-50 per cent) to air pollution, the pollution levels due to rest of the sources — road transport, construction/demolition activities, road sweeping, coal-based industries and power plants, burning of garbage/waste and diesel generators — have not been mitigated significantly enough.

It is because the GRAP was not implemented holistically in all parts of NCR and even that was done late when the pollution had already peaked.

Analysis of actions
Let me present an analysis of the actions taken by the various agencies concerned this year during three levels of high air pollution: very poor — PM2.5 and PM10 between 121-250 ug/m3 and 351-430 ug/m3 respectively; severe — PM 2.5 and PM10 between 250-300 and 430-500, respectively; and severe plus or emergency — PM2.5 and PM10 above 300 and 500 respectively.

For example, when the air quality was categorised as poor, these action followed: (a) ban on use of diesel generators sets was effected only in Delhi but not in other NCR towns; (b) parking fees were to be enhanced but not done due to non-finalisation of base charges; and (c) increase in frequency of bus and metro services was in-sufficient.

Similarly, when pollution reached severe category: (a) blanket ban on hot-mix plants came into effect late on November 2;(b) ban on coal-based power plants not implemented in other towns of NCR — Badarpur power plant alone was shut towards end of October this year.

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