EPCA lens on diesel vehicles, thermal power plants
NEW DELHI: The EPCA has suggested that plying of diesel vehicles be banned and thermal power plants be shut when pollution breaches 'emergency' levels in Delhi- NCR, as part of a fresh set of recommendations to strengthen the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The Supreme Court-appointed panel, in its submission to the apex court, has also pitched for stickers on vehicles reflecting fuel and age so that based on the level of pollution, certain categories of vehicles can be prohibited from hitting the roads.
The recommendations form part of the EPCA's (Environment Pollution - Prevention and Control Authority) assessment of GRAP's implementation this season and its learnings from the smog episode which prompted it to enforce a series of emergency measures across the region.
Dwelling on the need to include further measures that can bring immediate relief during future smog episodes, the EPCA observed that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is a contributory factor but not the only problem during the winter months. "So, there may be a need for additional emergency measures like closure of all coal-based thermal plants and industries in the region. Currently, the Supreme Court has imposed a ban on pet coke and FO (furnace oil), but there may be a requirement to temporarily halt all other air polluting sources during peak smog periods.
"Ban on all diesel vehicles on roads/and or stickers of fuel and age on all vehicles through PUC (pollution under control certificate) so that based on level of threat, categories of vehicles can be prohibited from plying. This, however, will require intervention from the relevant ministries so that the stickers are tamper-proof," says the EPCA's submission to the SC.
The EPCA also stressed the need for better weather forecasts so that agencies have advance notice of the measures that need to be taken, stating how authorities were in the dark till the evening of November 6 that pollution levels were heading towards an alarming spike by the next morning.
"EPCA is now given to understand from weather experts, including IMD, that the situation of the past few days was unprecedented. Two air circulatory systems - one bringing pollutants from crop burning in Punjab and Haryana, (including according to one theory dust from multi-day dust storm in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) and the other bringing moisture from the east collided over Delhi region. This formed a cloud of pollutants, trapped in moisture, which combined with near calm wind conditions at the ground-level, suffocated the region.
"EPCA had no advance warning of this weather conditions.