Gurugram air second-worst in India, anti-pollution emergency plan to be implemented from today

Gurugram, on Sunday, recorded the second worst air quality in the country with an AQI score of 297 (poor) after Bhiwadi in Rajashthan’s Alwar district, which ranked ‘Very Poor’ with an AQI score of 301.

Gurgaon: 15 October, 2018 (Hindustan Times)

Gurugram recorded the second worst air quality in the country with an AQI score of 297, after Bhiwandi, on Sunday, October 14, 2018.(Parveen Kumar / HT Photo )

With the quality of air in the National Capital Region(NCR) steadily deteriorating, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board(HSPCB) will implement the Centre’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to tackle ‘Very Poor’ and ‘Severe’ categories of polluted air in Gurugram, and other areas falling within the NCR, starting Monday. The plan will similarly be implemented by the state pollution control boards of Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The GRAP, notified by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change in 2012, prescribes a set of measures to curb air pollution based on the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) daily Air Quality Index (AQI). The ‘Very Poor’ and ‘Severe’ categories involve taking steps to increase frequency of public transport and providing differential fares to curb vehicular pollution, enhancing fees for public parking to discourage the use of private vehicles, banning the use of diesel generators and preventing coal and wood fires, among others.

Traditionally, these measures would be implemented if ‘Very Poor’ or ‘Severe’ levels of air pollution are recorded in an area for 48 continuous hours, and would be withdrawn once the pollution levels are brought back to a less severe AQI category, say, ‘Moderate’ or ‘Poor’.

“However, keeping in mind the nature and extent of winter pollution, the GRAP for severe and poor air will be implemented in the NCR till the current pollution cycle ends, in March next year,” said a regional officer of the HSPCB on Sunday.

Last year, NCR towns (except Delhi) were allowed to continue using diesel gensets after the state pollution control boards requested the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) for an exemption from the ban, citing poor power supply in these regions. It had been announced last month that NCR towns would not be exempted from the ban this year. “Last year, local authorities had been warned that they will not be exempted from the ban in 2018, and that they have one year to fix their power supply issues,” said Polaash Mukherjee, a senior researcher at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which works closely with the EPCA.

However, EPCA member and CSE head Sunita Narain said, on Sunday, that NCR towns will be allowed to use diesel gensets as a ban on them would be “impractical.”

Gurugram, on Sunday, recorded the second worst air quality in the country with an AQI score of 297 (poor) after Bhiwadi in Rajashthan’s Alwar district, which ranked ‘Very Poor’ with an AQI score of 301. This was down from 325 (‘Very Poor’) on Saturday, due to reduced vehicular pollution.

Gurugram also recorded the highest AQI among cities with ‘Poor’ air, while neighbouring cities of Delhi and Faridabad recorded 204 and 207 (also ‘Poor’) on the AQI respectively. But three Sundays ago, the city recorded ‘Moderate’ air, with an AQI score of 174. The jump in these numbers leaves no doubt about the region’s worsening air pollution.

PM2.5 continues to be the major pollutant in Gurugram. On Sunday, the city’s only air quality monitor at Vikas Sadan recorded PM2.5 concentrations as high as 181.46ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), three times the safe limit of 60ug/m3. The daily average measure of PM2.5 in the city was not available on the CPCB website.