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Govt likely to review environment plans after GRAP ends next month

Govt likely to review environment plans after GRAP ends next month
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NEW DELHI: The environment department of Delhi is likely to plan a review drive of all the action plans taken this season at the end of March. Next month also the emergency action plan GRAP will end as per the Supreme Court order when the government initiate its review work. "We have taken urgent steps and also consulted matters with EPCA. But after this season we would like to review all the plans and how these were executed and at last what was the outcome," said an official.

In November 2018, when Delhi declared its first "pollution emergency" of the year due to smog, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) implemented the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) across Delhi-NCR for 'severe' category of pollution. Such action was taken for the first time, to tackle Delhi's air pollution problem. This year again, the EPCA is gearing up to implement GRAP from mid-October. Consultations have already started, and the authority will take stock of preparations on ground to prevent yet another winter filled with smog and high particulate matter.

Toxic levels of air pollution monitored over Delhi almost every week from November 1 last year to January 6 showed that the government's emergency plans to tackle the city's annual crisis have failed, said a report of United Residents Joint Action or URJA, a collective of the city's resident welfare associations. To curb rising air pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change had notified the implementation of GRAP through the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority. In November 2016, air pollution in Delhi had reached 16 times above safe levels, and the Delhi government had declared an emergency.

GRAP entails a number of actions to be taken as soon as the city's air reports toxic particulate matter, or PM 2.5, at levels between 61-120 µg/m3 and 300+ µg/m3. The World Health Organisation standard for permissible level of PM 2.5 in the air (24-hour average) is 25 μg/m3 while India's National Ambient Air Quality standard allows levels 1.4 times higher at 60 μg/m3.

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