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Stricter measures under Graded Response Action Plan in Delhi-NCR from October 15. How has the plan worked in Delhi so far, what is being extended to NCR towns, and where do other states figure in it?

Some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi’s neighbourhood, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The action plan has already been in effect for two years in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).

What’s New

The measures that are coming into force will be incremental. As pollution rises, and it is expected to as winter approaches, more measures will come into play depending on the air quality.


• Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated after several meetings that the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) held with state government representatives and experts.
• GRAP works only as an emergency measure. As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions.
• When the air quality shifts from poor to very poor, the measures listed under both sections have to be followed since the plan is incremental in nature.
• If air quality reaches the severe+ stage, GRAP talks about shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.

Success of GRAP

GRAP has been successful in doing two things creating a step-by-step plan for the entire Delhi-NCR region. Getting on board several agencies: all pollution control boards, industrial area authorities, municipal corporations, regional officials of the India Meteorological Department, and others.

The biggest success of GRAP has been in fixing accountability and deadlines. For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked. Also, coordination among as many as 13 agencies from four states is simplified to a degree because of the clear demarcation of responsibilities.

Major Policy Decisions

Three major policy decisions that can be credited to EPCA and GRAP are

* The closure of the thermal power plant at Badarpur
* Bringing BS-VI fuel to Delhi before the deadline set initially
* The ban on Pet coke as a fuel in Delhi NCR.


The EPCA, headed by retired IAS officer Bhure Lal and including members from the Centre for Science and Environment, was constituted in 1998 by the Supreme Court. The initial mandate of the body was 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.

The body continues to monitor pollution and assists the Supreme Court in several pollution-related matters.

Steps taken by other states

One criticism of the EPCA as well as GRAP has been the focus on Delhi. While other states have managed to delay several measures, citing lack of resources, Delhi has always been the first one to have stringent measures enforced. In a recent meeting that discussed the ban on diesel generator sets, the point about Delhi doing all the heavy lifting was also raised.

In 2014, when a study by the World Health Organization found that Delhi was the most polluted city in the world, panic spread in the Centre and the state government. The release of a study on sources of air pollution the following year also gave experts, NGOs and scientists a handle on why Delhi was so polluted.

*More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water
Very Poor
(PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.)

*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
(PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.)
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 ban on firecrackers

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