MUMBAI

Maharashtra to implement graded response action plan to combat air pollution | Mumbai news

Maharashtra to implement graded response action plan to combat air pollution | Mumbai news, the vie

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has planned to implement an emergency response system, similar to Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in Delhi to combat air pollution. This will be done in non-attainment cities that consistently fail to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM 10 (Particulate matter that is 10 microns or less in diameter) or NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide).

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) drafted this plan and shared it with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) along with other eligible local bodies in September 2020. According to officials, this is likely to be implemented in time for next year’s pollution cycle.

The GRAP is a set of measures that are triggered in phases as air quality deteriorates. For example, when the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR hits the ‘severe’ category, concerning municipal corporations in Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh impose bans on polluting activities such as construction, operation of cement mix plants and running diesel generators, and step-up patrolling for open burning.

, the vie
(HT Graphic)

The sprinkling of water and road-sweeping to control dust pollution are also activities triggered under the GRAP every winter in the National Capital Region (NCR), when air quality hits the ‘very poor’ AQI category.

MPCB has categorised air quality in four stages (from ‘moderate’ to ‘emergency’) based on the daily concentration of particulate matter pollutants PM2.5 and PM10. In Delhi, the pollution control measures range from dust sweeping during ‘moderate’ conditions to imposing odd-even vehicle rationing schemes and blanket bans on construction work when pollution levels touch ‘severe’ classification.

These gradations, and the actions mandated under them, are uniform across Maharashtra and will be implemented by municipal bodies when air quality remains within a category for 48 hours.

The GRAP will be implemented in 25 non-attainment cities and five cantonment boards across the state. A senior MPCB official informed, “All municipal corporations and councils of non-attainment cities in Maharashtra have been given a copy of the GRAP. They have been told to take appropriate action for the improvement of air quality by implementing it, but this has not happened yet. It is up to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB)s to start doing so. The MPCB will act as the regulator of this plan and seek daily reports from the environment departments of the implementing ULBs.”

The official further informed that in a coastal city like Mumbai, where winters are very mild, there may never be a situation when air quality touches the ‘emergency’ category. But in cities like Pune, or further west like Nashik and Nagpur, where winters are much intense, GRAP will play an important role in curbing air pollution.

Sunil Godse, who heads the BMC’s environment wing, said that GRAP will be put through a public consultation process in the last week of February 2022, as part of the Mumbai Climate Action Plan which is being developed in partnership with the World Resources Institute (India). “Once the graded action goes through the public consultation process, we will begin implementing it. It should be operational in time for next year’s pollution cycle in Mumbai,” Godse said.

The GRAP, which was first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017 — at the instruction of the now-defunct Supreme Court-appointment Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) — has seen little success in north India, where cities like Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, Sonipat, continue to see high levels of air pollution during the winter.

“The problem with the GRAP is that it is a reactive measure, not pre-emptive. In Delhi-NCR, which has a vast airshed and where the meteorological conditions are not favourable for dispersal, the GRAP has not shown much efficacy. But in cities across Maharashtra, you see a lot more regional variation in pollution levels, and there is a chance that the GRAP may show measurable impact. It will depend entirely on implementation, and ideally should be accompanied by a forecasting system so you can start implementing the measures before the air quality deteriorates irrevocably,” said Sachin Pawar, an independent air quality scientist certified by the Quality Council of India under the union environment ministry.

Dr SN Tripathi, an atmospheric scientist at IIT-Kanpur and member of the Steering Committee of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), said, “The Maharashtra government is very progressive in its approach to air pollution. But, indeed, the GRAP in Delhi has not had much measurable impact on the overall air quality. It’s a step in the right direction, but every city has widely different sources of air pollution and meteorological conditions, and it would be beneficial for Maharashtra to tailor this policy toward the local realities of its non-attainment cities rather than impose it as a blanket policy.”

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