The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas (“CAQM”) has issued the revised Graded Response Action Plan (“GRAP”) for the National Capital Region of Delhi (“NCR”) under the provisions of the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Act, 2021 (“Act”). The revised guidelines will come into effect from 01 October, 2022. The Supreme Court of India had directed CAQM in December, 2021 to invite suggestions from the general public and experts for finding permanent solutions to the air pollution menace. In compliance with the order CAQM has issued the revised GRAP based on recommendations by its expert group, thus replacing the plan released in 2017.
The revised GRAP provides an action plan to address air pollution in Delhi-NCR based on four different stages of adverse air quality. Stage – I denotes ‘poor’ air quality (Air Quality Index is from 201 to 300); Stage – II denotes ‘very poor’ air quality (Air Quality Index is from 301 to 400); Stage – III denotes ‘severe’ air quality (Air Quality Index is from 401 to 450); and Stage – IV denotes ‘severe+’ air quality (Air Quality Index exceeds >450) respectively. For each stage of adverse air quality, GRAP prescribes different measures to deal with various sources of pollution along with the names of agencies responsible for the implementation of such measures.
It is noteworthy that restrictive measures prescribed under the subsequent stages of adverse air quality will be implemented in addition to the action already being taken under the previous stages. This means that when the air quality reaches ‘severe+’ stage, steps taken under the previous stages, i.e., ‘poor’, ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ will continue to be implemented and all measures mentioned in GRAP will become effective until air the quality improves.
Mentioned below are certain important measures prescribed under the various stages of GRAP:
|Air Quality||Prescribed Measures|
|Stage I – ‘poor’ air quality||
|Stage II – ‘very poor’ air quality||
|Stage III – ‘severe’ air quality||
|Stage IV – ‘severe+’ air quality||
The revised GRAP prescribes pre-emptive measures for addressing air pollution menace as restrictions under each category will be invoked at least three days prior to the Air Quality Index reaching the projected levels in that stage. This system will be based on the dynamic air quality forecast system data provided by specialized agencies like Indian Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology to CAQM on a day-to-day basis. These revised measures are different from the earlier GRAP wherein action under each stage was taken after the levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 reached specified limits.
Additionally, the revised GRAP also provides for a ban on the construction activities under ‘severe’ category (which in the earlier GRAP was imposed in ‘severe+’ category). Notably, there is no mention of air pollution caused by agriculture waste burning in Delhi NCR. GRAP also requires the Sub-Committee of CAQM and Chief Secretaries of state governments to regularly meet and review the implementation of these measures in their respective jurisdictions. The inter-regional cooperation among Delhi NCR airshed region will be critical for the successful implementation of GRAP.
It is expected that the revised GRAP, in addition to multiple directions issued by CAQM regarding permitted fuels, use of DG sets and comprehensive plan on menace of air pollution, will ensure consistency in air pollution management policies across Delhi NCR. However, it remains to be seen as to how the implementation of these policies will overcome the challenges and shortcomings identified in the earlier policies to address air pollution in Delhi NCR. More importantly, the proposed restrictions on BS-IV diesel vehicles which are less than 10 years old may also face some resistance.
This article was originally published in Mondaq on 31 August 2022 Co-written by: Nawneet Vibhaw, Partner; Himanshu Pabreja, Associate. Click here for original article
Contributed by: Nawneet Vibhaw, Partner; Himanshu Pabreja, Associate
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