New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: As the air quality in the national capital hit 'poor' level just before the onset of the winter season, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Thursday said that stricter measures to fight the air pollution will be enforced in Delhi and nearby areas from October 15 as a part of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

The pollution control body also has asked Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to 'try and avert' the need to take strict measures, such as banning construction and industries, as the economy is already under stress due to the coronavirus-mandated lockdown.

The EPCA also directed the governments of Delhi, Haryana and UP to ban the use of diesel generators, except for essential and emergency services, in the national capital and the neighbouring cities of Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Gurugram.

The action by the pollution watchdog came as Delhi's air quality turned poor on Wednesday, the first time since June 29, with CPCB recording a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 215. It was 178 on Tuesday. The PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR on Wednesday stood at 234 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) while PM2.5 was 93 µg/m3.

The EPCA will soon issue a list of “exclusions and emergency services” where the use of diesel generators will be allowed. Measures such as a ban on construction activity, industries using non-PNG fuels, and closure of thermal power plants kick in when the air quality in the region hits “emergency” levels.

EPCA also stressed that co-morbid health conditions are a huge challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic and there is enough evidence that pollution will make them more dangerous.

The measures under GRAP, which was first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017, include increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping use of diesel generator sets when the air quality turns poor.

When the situation turns "severe", 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.

The measures to be followed in the "emergency" situation include stopping the entry of trucks in Delhi, ban on construction activities and introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme.

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'.

Posted By: Talib Khan