Once again, as winter sets in, the capital city of India has been engulfed in severe air pollution. The thick smog that blanketed Delhi for the second consecutive day has led to GRAP coming into force.
The poor air quality is primarily due to unfavourable meteorological conditions and raging farm fires in Punjab. For the first time the leaders of both the states got together to admit responsibility for paddy straw (Parali) burning in the border state.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann on Friday promised to curb the practice by next winter. Kejriwal said air pollution in the winters was not a “Delhi-specific problem”. He shared how the crisis affects entire northern India and that there should be no blame game and politics on the issue.
First implemented in 2017, GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan) is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in the capital and its vicinity according to the severity of the situation. Meanwhile, Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been put in place in a bid to avoid further deterioration of overall air quality.
Under Stage IV of Grap, which is implemented when AQI goes above 450, several extreme measures are put into action. This includes ban on certain categories of diesel vehicles, ban on construction and demolition works, closure of almost all industries not running on clean fuels, and states to decide on permitting work from home options and online classes for studets.
Course of Action
Also, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to list for hearing on November 10 a PIL seeking fresh guidelines on stubble burning to curb rising air pollution in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR). The public interest litigation (PIL) has sought appointment of a ”high-level committee” under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge to tackle the air-pollution crisis due to stubble burning.
Also, schools in Delhi, have been closed for primary classes until the air quality improves. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has also said that 50 per cent of government staff would be working from home. He said a similar advisory has been issued for private offices.
Mann, on his part, said that stubble burning is increasing because farm produce is also at record highs. The Punjab Chief Minister added that his government is looking at diversifying from paddy next year as long as farmers get Minimum Support Prices, and suggested alternatives like bajra, poplars, and vegetables.