The use of electricity generators is banned in the national capital from Thursday to curb the rising level of air pollution. The air quality in Delhi-NCR has been dipping due to the onset of the winter and stubble burning by farmers in the neighbouring states.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 282 at 5 pm. The 24-hour average AQI was 300 on Tuesday. The AQI had hit “very poor” levels on Tuesday morning and stood at 306 at 11 am, which was the worst since February.
To control the air quality, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) on Wednesday issued directions banning the use of diesel/electricity generators in the national capital from Thursday under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
What is the order?
The DPCC has banned the use of electricity generator sets of all capacities, run on diesel, petrol or kerosene in Delhi with effect from October 15 till further orders.
Essential services include healthcare facilities, elevators, railway services, electricity services, Delhi Metro, airports and interstate bus terminals and the data centre run by the National Informatics Centre.
The order was given after the chairperson of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority visited the hotspots.
During the visit, the EPCA chairperson noted that there was an urgent need to plug the sources of pollution before winter along with ground-level monitoring as well as the use of smog guns for the prevention of dust pollution.
The directive states that all air pollution hotspots must be properly monitored to ensure that the EPCA plan is implemented properly.
The DPCC order also directs the authorities to undertake night patrolling to ensure there is no incident of garbage burning or activities that could contribute to dust pollution.
According to the directive issued by the DPCC, long-term measures should be taken for disposal of garbage, so that incidents of garbage burning can be curbed. Burning of garbage is a major part of air pollution, the DPCC said.
The committee also said that, where possible, arrangements should be made to sweep the streets with machines and also asked the authorities to sprinkle water on the roads and take all possible steps possible steps to prevent dust pollution.
What is GRAP?
GRAP is a set of anti-pollution measures that come into force in Delhi and its vicinity towns according to the severity of the situation.
It was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2017 for implementation through the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.
The measures under GRAP, which was first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017, include increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping the use of diesel/electricity generator sets when the air quality turns poor.
If the air quality continues to dip and enters the ‘severe’ category, GRAP recommends closure of brick kilns, stone crushers and hot mix plants, sprinkling of water, frequent mechanised cleaning of roads and maximising power generation from natural gas.
If there is an ”emergency” situation, there will be a curb on he entry of trucks in Delhi, ban on construction activities and introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme.
EPCA, however, had earlier told Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that they “should try and avert the need to take other emergency measures for pollution control as the economy is already under stress post-lockdown.
Therefore, our combined effort is to ensure that there is no further disruption”.
What is Delhi’s AQI today?
Delhi’s AQI is in ‘poor’ category right now. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
On Wednesday, Delhi AQI was 274 at 10:30 am and 282 at 5 pm.
The senior scientist at the Delhi Pollution Control Committee said the dip in the air quality can be attributed to low wind speed which allowed the accumulation of pollutants.
“Stubble burning has also increased in neighbouring states. A change in wind direction is likely to improve AQI slightly on Tuesday,” he said.
Low temperatures and stagnant winds allow accumulation of pollutants near the ground, affecting air quality.
According to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a Delhi-based think tank, transportation contributes the most — 18 to 39 per cent — to Delhi’s air pollution.
Road dust is the second-largest source of air pollution in the city (18 to 38 per cent), followed by industries (2 to 29 per cent), thermal power plants (3 to 11 per cent) and construction (8 per cent).
The Delhi government has launched a massive anti-air pollution campaign — “Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh’ — which is being led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Environment Minister Gopal Rai.
A “green war room” with a 10-member expert team has been set up at the Delhi Secretariat to monitor the steps being taken to deal with high levels of air pollution in winters.