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Delhi pollution: Apex court tells Centre to notify action plan

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta on Wednesday directed the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF) to notify the comprehensive action plan formulated by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) for Delhi-NCR within the next two weeks.
"This is the first ever comprehensive action plan that has been adopted officially to mandate time-bound short, medium and long-term measures to clean up the air of Delhi and National Capital Region with a compliance strategy.
"This also helps create a template of action for all other cities of India," said Sunita Narain, member, EPCA.
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the think tank for the EPCA, also welcomed the apex court order.
"This is a very important step forward as according to the comprehensive action plan, Delhi and NCR will have to reduce particulate pollution by at least 74 per cent from the current level of annual average PM2.5 to be able to meet the clean air standards.
Such a daunting challenge can be met only with time-bound action and strong compliance and deterrence framework," said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE.
She added that the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has already helped to reduce the frequency and intensity of smog episode this winter in Delhi-NCR.
In fact, CSE's analysis shows that while in November 2016 as much as 54 per cent of the days were in a severe category, this year in November it has reduced to 41 per cent.
However, for lasting and enduring results, the comprehensive action plan must be implemented with utmost urgency and stringency.
Meanwhile, the apex court allowed the cement industry to use pet coke as a feedstock, after it was banned last month to clean up the air in Delhi and its neighbouring states.
The SC also relaxed the ban on the use of furnace oil at power plants till December 31, 2018, saying its usage stands at just 0.03 per cent.

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