Air Pollution

[pib] Sub-Committee for GRAP reviews the Air Quality scenario in New Delhi


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: GRAP and its implementation, AQI;

Why in the News?

  • Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) registered at 243, falling under the ‘Poor’ category, as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
    • In response to this, the Sub-Committee under the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) convened to assess the situation and strategize under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

About Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

  • The GRAP was conceived as a response to the alarming findings of a WHO study in 2014, which ranked Delhi as the most polluted city globally.
  • It is a framework designed to combat air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region.
  • The Supreme Court (M. C. Mehta vs. Union of India Case, 2016) approved GRAP after multiple expert consultations.
  • First GRAP was notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Implementation of GRAP:

  • The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR & Adjoining Areas (CAQM) took over the responsibility of implementing GRAP in 2021.
  • Before 2021, the SC appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) would instruct states to enforce GRAP measures.
  • The CAQM recommendations depend on the Air Quality Index (AQI) and meteorological predictions provided by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Revised measures to implement:

Air Quality Stage AQI Range Measures to be implemented
Stage I (Poor) 201-300 Enforce NGT/Supreme Court’s order on over-aged diesel/petrol vehicles.
Stage II (Very Poor) 301-400 Implement rigorous actions to combat air pollution at identified hotspots.
Stage III (Severe) 401-450 Impose strict restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel vehicles. Suspend physical classes in schools for primary grade children up to Class 5 in certain areas.
Stage IV (Severe Plus) >450 Prohibit the entry of four-wheelers registered outside Delhi, except for electric vehicles, CNG vehicles, and BS-VI diesel vehicles.


Current Air Quality Scenario: Factors Contributing 

  • The GRAP sub-committee noted the following natural causes exacerbating dust suspension across the National Capital Region (NCR):
  1. Fluctuating wind patterns,
  2. Higher convection rates, and
  3. Arid weather conditions.
  • Additionally, increased instances of agricultural residue burning and forest fires in neighboring states were identified as potential contributors to deteriorating air quality.

Action Plan suggested by GRAP Sub-Committee

  • Intensive Drives at Pollution Hotspots: The concerned Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) and NCR committees were tasked with conducting rigorous inspections at major pollution hotspots, prioritizing dust abatement measures.
  • Enhanced Dust Control Measures: Measures such as increased deployment of water sprinklers and mechanical road sweeping equipment were recommended to mitigate dust levels.
  • Preventing Open Burning: Vigilance against instances of open burning, including municipal solid waste (MSW) and agricultural residue, was emphasized to curb further pollution.
  • Strict Enforcement: Dust Control & Management Cells (DCMCs) and enforcement teams were instructed to intensify monitoring and enforcement efforts at construction sites and road projects.
  • Inspections and Compliance: Flying Squads of CPCB were directed to conduct thorough inspections and take appropriate action against violators of environmental regulations.


[2016] In the cities of our country, which among the following atmospheric gases are normally considered in calculating the value of Air Quality Index?

1. Carbon dioxide

2. Carbon monoxide

3. Nitrogen dioxide

4. Sulphur dioxide

5. Methane

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2, 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 4 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

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