The Union Government has empowered the Supreme Court mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
As per a notification, GRAP can be implemented if the air pollution stays above the emergency level for 48-hours. In such cases, the odd-even scheme may be enforced and construction work can be halted in the national capital.
First of its kind, the ambitious Graded Response Action Plan envisages to roll out a host of emergency measures like the closure of power plants and schools. It will also issue advisories asking people to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement.
Earlier on 12 January 2017, the Environment Ministry in its notification assigned the task to implement the plan to EPCA under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The notification read, "in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Union Government hereby assigns the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA".
The notification was issued in the backdrop of air pollution in Delhi and NCR, which is a serious concern and require urgent action.
The odd-even was implemented twice in the national capital, i.e. in January 2016 and April 2016. The efficacy of implementation remained a topic of debate among experts.
Earlier on 2 December 2016, the Supreme Court gave its go ahead to the action plan. The approved plan details the measures for implementation, which will be based on the intensity of pollution ranging from severe plus or emergency to moderate-poor.
Severe Plus or emergency level: It is described when PM2.5 levels cross 300 µg/m or PM 10 level crosses 500 µg/m3 (5 times above the standard) and continue for 48 hours or more.
Comment: Implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in the national capital is a big step to manage the pollution and to prevent emergency situation which may rise due to an increase in pollution level.