The Delhi government is all set to take a cue from Singapore to strengthen its Pollution Under Control (PUC) testing norms for which it has come under the scanner, as the city witnessed toxic levels of pollution with vehicular emissions being one of the major factors. Officials from the transport department had recently toured the city to study the technology used in Singapore.The observations will be part of the PUC strengthening programme, said sources. The move has come after the Supreme Court asked the government to implement the recommendations given by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) in its audit reports of the PUC tests in Delhi-NCR earlier this year on upgrading technology for issuing fitness certificates to vehicles.The EPCA has recommended technological advancements in the checking equipment connecting the diagnosis to the PUC to cut down on vehicular emissions.The EPCA is an SC-appointed body appointed to curb air pollution in the city. It had found in its report that the PUC norms being followed were weak while the test units used outdated technology.According to a senior official, vehicle-testing for pollution in the Capital is done when it is in idle mode and does not show the actual levels of emissions because of which the rejection rate is too low.”Most developed cities, including Singapore have switched to load-mode testing (when the vehicle is in operation) which produces accurate readings. Besides, the PUC centres issuing fitness certificates are organised and follow uniform norms with an equally trained staff. In Delhi, vehicle-testing is done at the no-load condition. It is a setback to see visible smoke from poorly maintained vehicles, which must change now. A presentation for the same will be put forth for discussion soon,” he said.The department had carried out an inspection of these PUC centres this year between February and August, which revealed that of the 957 registered centres in the city, action against 353 was taken for various complaints.Of the 353 centres, 178 were issued discrepancy/deficiency notices, 134 were issued showcause notices, 27 centres were issued a warning, 14 were suspended while licenses of eight centres were cancelled.PUC CENTRES IN TROUBLETotal number of PUC centres in Delhi 957 Action taken against 353 Discrepancy/deficiency notices issued to 178 Showcause notices issued to 134 Warnings issued to 27 Licenses suspended of 14
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<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Showing marked improvement, air quality in the national capital was recorded as ‘very poor’ today, but the EPCA is not planning to lift the emergency measures such as ban on trucks and construction immediately.The 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was 308, which falls in the ‘very poor’ category, following a week-long smog episode when pollutants shot up to emergency levels. The air quality may further improve tomorrow as light rains are expected, which will help in flushing suspended particulates away, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) member secretary A Sudhakar said.According to CPCB and SAFAR scientists, the improvement has got much to do with the rise in mixing height (where air and suspended particulates mix), surface wind gaining speed, which aided rapid dispersion of pollutants, and measures implemented under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). “We are not relaxing anything as of now. The CPCB task force will meet tomorrow and the day after and suggest future course of action as drizzle is expected. Sudden relaxation and re-imposition becomes troublesome for enforcing authorities.So we will take further decisions only when the prevailing trend of improvement persists,” Sudhakar told PTI. The hourly-graph of the Central Control Room for Air Quality Management, which tracks the levels of PM2.5 and PM10, also reflected the improvement. At 5 pm, PM2.5 and PM10 were at 259.8 and 389.2 micrograms per cubic metre respectively. Pollution is considered severe plus or emergency when these readings are above 300 and 500 respectively.The corresponding 24-hour safe standards are 60 and 100. A ‘very poor’ AQI comes with the warning that people may develop respiratory illness on prolonged exposure while exposure to ‘severe’ air affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.Currently, the severe plus measures of the GRAP, namely the ban on construction across the NCR and ban on all trucks (other than those carrying essential commodities) are in force.According to the EPCA, these will remain imposed until air quality levels see improvement for at least 48 hours.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal called the Delhi government’s Odd-Even traffic restrictions to clean up the city’s toxic air a “farce” on Friday, and said it will not be rolled out without the NGT’s go ahead.”We will not allow it until you prove that it’s not counter-productive,” the NGT said. India’s top environment court will take a call on the issue on Saturday.The government has announced to run during Monday-Friday the controversial measure which says odd- and even-numbered private vehicles ply on alternate days as air quality has remained severally polluted over four days. The NGT said that a hundred measures have been suggested to curb pollution, but the government always opts for Odd-Even. After the resounding criticism, the government plan hangs in the balance.The scheme is being rolled out under a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) given by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). But EPCA chairman Bhure Lal told DNA that Odd-Even will be ineffective. “The announcement was made without consulting EPCA… it will create panic… Two-wheeler exemption and lack of buses will make Odd-Even infective,” he said. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked Delhi government to provide details of the benefits during the earlier implementation of the scheme.The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said there is no data to suggest that the road rationing scheme reduced vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR.The NGT also questioned the exemption given to two-wheelers, saying these are a major pollution contributor in Delhi where schools are shut for the week. The situation has not improved despite a slew of government measures — ordering a halt to construction, restricting car use and raising parking charges fourfold.Following a plea by the AAP government, the green panel however allowed the industries engaged in essential services to operate in Delhi-NCR on the condition that they would not pollute and cause emissions.Illegal crop stubble burning, vehicle exhaust and construction dust have been causing Delhi’s pollution crisis every winter. A US embassy measure of tiny particulate matter called PM 2.5 showed a reading of 523 at 9 am onFriday. The safe limit of “good” air is 50. Commercial trucks are now banned from Delhi unless they are transporting essential commodities
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Delhi, the capital city of the India, remains engulfed in dense smog. City residents woke up to witness a thick blanket of grey smog hovering around Delhi.The air quality index in the city has reduced to an alarming rate. Blaming the slow winds, cold temperature and the crop stubble burning in the neighbouring cities, airborne pollutants have been recorded as ‘hazardous’ in the city. The Indian Medical Association has declared a state of health emergency in the capital. Recommending to cancel Delhi’s half-marathon, IMA also urged the government to issue preventive measures for the current environmental crisis. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research explains the air quality index as follows:SUDDEN DEVELOPMENT @850hpa and @700 hpaWind Speed: 15-20kmph (Strong Winds)Wind Direction: 315 degree (North-West) Punjab-HaryanaFire counts: High on Past 24 hr (More than 21)@SURFACEWind Speed: 2.2kmphVentilation Coefficient: Very SmallBoundary Layer height: Less than 800 meterWind Direction: 315 degree (Westerly)In simple words the ‘safe limit’ set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is 100 µg/m3 for PM 10 and 60 µg/m3 for PM 2.5. Anything recorded beyond 400 µg/m3 indicates severe air quality, and between 300 and 400 µg/m3 is seen as very poor.Meanwhile, the air quality index recorded for Delhi by the CPCB, based on as many as 15 monitoring stations, on Tuesday, was 351 µg/m3.It also remained “very poor” for Noida and Gurgaon as well at 349 µg/m3 and 343 µg/m3 while neighbouring Ghaziabad and Faridabad had “severe” air quality with 439 µg/m3 and 410 µg/m3.Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has directed the Delhi government to impose all conditions under the severe category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) under severe category; start preparedness for tougher action and appeals to governments to take this public health emergency seriously and to undertake massive and drastic action to control air pollution The drop in temperature is also not good sign for air pollution. Decrease in temperature leads to reduced wind speeds. The reduced wind speed ensures the pollutants suspended in the air are not able to disperse and thus remain hanging in the air.PREVENTIVE MEASURES BY GOVT. Forcing the authorities to swing into action, certain emergency preventive measures have been issued. 1.Deputy CM Manish Sisodia declared that the primary schools in and around the city remain closed. 2.Government also proposed on increase in the parking fare to 4 times the actual amount in order to encourage usage of public transport.3. Intensify the enforcement of non-destined goods traffic into Delhi by physically checking all vehicles and turning them back – also, putting out public announcements of the numbers that are turned back. 4. All brick kiln in and around Delhi to shut down. EPCA also directs the government to close all hot mix plants and crushers. 5. Immediate scaling up of public transport has been directed, by increasing the number of buses and reliable services in Delhi.6. Fines shall be imposed on all construction agencies for dust spread. Fines upto 5000 per day shall be levied.7. Ban on use of diesel generators to be continued in the city.8. Deployment of police personnels in the blocked ares of the city and traffic prone spots. 9. Intensification of mechanized road sweeping and sprinkling of water10. The Delhi government has put out health advisories for high-risk groups, mainly the children.SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUESAccording to World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution is a major environmental issue for health. Extremely high pollution levels in air can increase risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Major environmental health problems are witnessed in developed and developing nations. Air pollution leads to acute respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer among adults. “Exposure to ozone is a major factor in asthma morbidity and mortality, while nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide also can play a role in asthma, bronchial symptoms, lung inflammation and reduced lung function,” states reports by WHO. In 2012, some 72% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or acute lower respiratory infections, and 14% of deaths were due to lung cancer.Well the only good thing about all these environmental crisis is that Delhities are not the only ones battling the gas chamber. Beijing, China’s massive capital had also declared health emergency because of air pollution in the city. Beijing who holds the worst reputation when it comes to air pollution in world was able to deal with the various steps taken by them.According to the amendments of China’s environment protection laws in 2014, the law gave more to environmental officials against polluting businesses and business men. After Beijing was covered in thick blanket of smog the government officials took ‘tough measures for tough tasks.’ More than 100 factories were shut temporarily and one-third government vehicles were reduced from the streets. Strict control measures were issued for heavily polluting industries and vehicles. STEPS TAKEN IN PAST A plan with various traffic restrictions and the shutdown of a major power plant, was announced after Delhi saw severe pollution last year. Desperate measures to reduce toxic air were taken by the AAP in 2016 in Delhi. Delhi Government decided to follow the odd-even number concept to reduce the number of private vehicles plying on roads. Supreme Court had banned the sale and distribution of fireworks in Delhi ahead of the festival of Diwali. All these preventive measures and guidelines are emergency plans, cannot become a long term plan to battle the health crisis in the city. The government needs to gear up soon and take decisive actions in order to cut down the air pollution in Delhi.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after pollution levels in the national capital skyrocketed to alarmingly high levels, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has directed the Delhi government to impose all conditions under the severe category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).In a press release that was shared by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the EPCA said that the GRAP is an emergency plan, which cannot be a long-term substitute to curb the city’s air pollution.The smog in the city has been caused by several conditions. These include the pollutants that come from Punjab that is the result of stubble burning, and the others from eastern Uttar Pradesh that come through moisture in the air. The pollutants collide at higher altitudes and this, minus ground wind level, has resulted in the smog-like situation in the national capital.
ALSO READ Punjab, Haryana pay dearly for farm firesOn Tuesday, the Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency and requested the state government to shut schools and advised people from venturing out.
ALSO READ Stubble not the only villain: Delhi High CourtGoing by the readings of SAFAR-India, the level of PM2.5 in Lodhi Road as on 2:53 pm was 569 units. It is followed by Mathura Road (550) and Delhi University (536). As per national standards, the permissible range for PM2.5 is 60. It is 25, according to the international standards.However, Avinash Kubal, the director of Maharashtra Nature Park in Mumbai, says that it isn’t a Delhi problem alone. “The pollution levels in several north Indian cities rise during this period due to these factors. Most of these cities have dry climate and the humidity – one of the major reasons behind the smog – is due to the irrigation canal network in our country. This clubbed with stubble burning adds to the pollution levels,” he said.THE BHATINDA MODELWhile most farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been actively involved in stubble burning, a Financial Express report said that the Bhatinda district administration has been using MGNREGA to drive construction of compost pits in farm land and encourage farmers to use the crop stubble as raw material for composting.But why do farmers burn crop? Kubal explains that the stubble has high phosphorus levels, and while farmers are not aware of this, phosphorus in the soil ensures more flowering and as a result, more fruits. “Ideally, the government should not ban stubble burning but look at alternatives and subsidise the farmer,” Kubal adds.What are the alternatives? Like the Bhatinda model, composting is definitely one option. Other alternatives are using the stubble – an organic material – as one of the raw ingredients in paper manufacture. “One can even chaff the stubble i.e. cut it into smaller pieces and mix it with cattle feed to feed bovines,” Kubal said, adding that burning has impacted the community through increased medical bills and cancelled flights. “However, imposing a blanket ban on stubble burning isn’t the answer,” he maintained.In his book ‘Socioeconomic and Environment Implications of Agricultural Residue Burning’, Parmod Kumar of the Institute for Social and Economic Change says continuous burning is not a sustainable agricultural practice.The book suggests several alternatives including using rice residue as fodder for animals, use of crop residue in bio thermal power plants, use of rice residue as bedding material for cattle, use of crop residue for mushroom cultivation, use of rice residue in paper production, use of rice residue for making bio gas, incorporation of paddy straw in soil, production of bio-oil from straw and other agricultural wastes, and agricultural residues for power generation.And while writing this piece, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that he was writing to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to find alternatives to stubble burning.SMOG ATTACK 2.0As the memories of 2016’s pollution crisis — worst in two decades — were revived on Tuesday, there is no relief anytime soon. Delhi and adjoining areas are expected to witness a moderate to dense smog cover on Wednesday and Thursday as well. According to a forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the condition is expected to remain “severe” for the next two days.The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution and Control Authority (EPCA) directed Delhi and NCR states to implement emergency measures to tackle the crisis.These include a fourfold increase in parking fee with immediate effect to discourage car use, scaling up of public transport to cut private vehicle emissions, lowering of Metro fare for off-peak rides to decongest roads, a Rs 50,000 fine per day per site on construction agencies for dust spread. Road-rationing scheme Odd-Even may also return if the situation further worsens.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The much talked about Odd-Even road rationing system is all set to return to the Capital this winter, when the graded response action plan (GRAP) to curb air pollution rolls out on October 15. The plan also proposes hiking the parking fee at congested areas by three to four times.GRAP, which has an advisory for each category of air pollution — emergency, severe, very poor, moderate, poor — will be implemented in Delhi-NCR between October 15 and March 15. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) — a Supreme Court (SC) mandated body to monitor air pollution in the city, has prepared the GRAP.The plan suggests that “Odd-Even system to be implemented” during the “severe” and “emergency” categories of air quality.”There will be off-peak hours, when the parking rates will fall, while during congestion, the charges will be hiked by three to four times. We will have to stop people from using private modes of transport. Here, the Odd-Even system and car pooling will come as a great tool to reduce pollution. We have told the government departments, including the traffic police, to plan adequately for these measures and create public awareness in advance,” EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal said.The plan came into existence last November, after the national Capital witnessed layers of smog following Diwali, with air turning almost to poison. “We have already issued letters to NCR states, including Haryana and Punjab, against crop burning, which contributes heavily to city pollution. Besides, we have submitted the measures under GRAP to the Apex Court. We have asked the Delhi government departments to be ready for the measures to be taken under the plan. It is crucial that we don’t allow a repeat of last year’s lethal smog,” Lal said.Besides, the EPCA will organise a meeting with the three municipal corporations on Tuesday to chalk out a strategy against garbage burning, and controlling dust on roads and construction sites.According to the action plan , measures under the “severe” and “emergency” categories also includes stopping heavy goods vehicles (except for those with essentials) to enter the city limits. The Transport Department and the traffic police will be responsible for identifying alternative routes for these vehicles.Also, the corporations and the government agencies will be tasked to identify construction sites across the city. “All construction will be stopped in case air quality reaches severe levels. District-level committees will be formed to monitor construction sites,” he said.Besides, the Pollution Under Control (PUC) test centers will be monitored by the state transport authority and the government’s task force.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hailing the Supreme Court’s order that vehicle insurance should be renewed unless the owner provides pollution under control (PUC) certificate, a green body said “it is an important step forward”. “In Delhi, only 23 per cent of vehicles come for the PUC checks. With mandatory linking of annual vehicle insurance with valid PUC certificate, the compliance level can improve significantly–especially as the Supreme Court has directed its enforcement nation-wide,” DG of Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain said. In a bid to curb pollution, the Supreme Court today issued a slew of directions including that insurance companies will not renew insurance of a vehicle unless the owner provides pollution under control (PUC) certificate. A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to ensure that all fuel refilling centres in the National Capital Region (NCR) have PUC centres. The CSE said that this recommendation was made by the the EPCA in its Report No 73 (on assessment of Pollution Under Control (PUC) Programme in Delhi and NCR), which submitted in the court in April this year. “The PUC system is critical to keep emissions of on-road vehicles under check. Overall improvement in compliance will lead to lesser emissions on road,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE s executive director-research and advocacy.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Concerned over rising vehicular pollution, the Supreme Court today issued a slew of directions that included non-renewal of insurance policy of vehicles unless the owner provides pollution under control (PUC) certificate to the insurance firms. A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta took note of the fact that some fuel refilling outlets in the National Capital Region (NCR) did not have the PUC centres. It asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, to ensure within four weeks that all fuel refilling centres in NCR have a functional PUC centre. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has suggested strengthening inspection of PUC centres for quality control and introduce well-equipped mobile test centres and a programme to check visibly polluting vehicles. Taking note of the suggestions, mooted by EPCA through amicus curiae Aprajita Singh, the bench asked the Centre to implement most of these as these would help in curbing pollution. Singh alleged that almost 96 per cent vehicles clear pollution tests at PUC centres and either the machines required re-calibration or there was something wrong with the way such centres are functioning. EPCA has sought to enforce penalty for PUC centres for non-compliance and malpractices. The court also asked the Centre to consider creating a national database of vehicles to monitor as to whether they are complaint to emission norms. The apex court had earlier granted three months time to the Centre to come out with standards for emissions by industries in the National Capital Region (NCR) to bring down the level of air pollutants. The apex court had in May directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prepare standards for emissions by industries in the NCR to curb level of air pollutants. It had asked CPCB to prepare the standards for emissions by June 30, which should be followed by industries by December end. The bench was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta way back in 1985 dealing with various aspects of pollution.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to curb pollution, the Supreme Court today issued a slew of directions including that insurance companies will not renew insurance of a vehicle unless the owner provides pollution under control (PUC) certificate. A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also asked the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to ensure that all fuel refilling centres in the National Capital Region (NCR) have PUC centres. The apex court granted four weeks time to the Centre to ensure that there are functional PUC centres in NCR to ensure that vehicles plying have PUC certificate. The court considered the suggestions given by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). The bench was hearing a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta way back in 1985 dealing with various aspects of pollution.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi Transport Department has taken action against 19 pollution checking centres for “flouting norms” in certifying vehicles on emission after an EPCA report found the city’s pollution under control (PUC) certification mechanism severely wanting. During a review meeting on air pollution chaired by Lt. Governor Anil Baijal today, the department said that it has suspended license of 14 pollution checking centres (PCCs) while that of five have been cancelled. The city has around 970 PCC centres, which are certified to check the emission of around 70 lakh vehicles in the city. An EPCA audit has found that lakhs of vehicles in the city are plying without the mandatory ‘pollution under control’ certificates while the emission testing centres are severely understaffed. “As many as 178 centres have been issued memos regarding discrepancies or deficiencies. “The transport commissioner also informed that the department is developing a software-based system which uploads the calibration status of the system and can also issue SMS to vehicle owners regarding validity of PUC,” a statement from the LG office said. During the meeting, it was informed that the department has impounded around 1,000 “unauthorised buses” since January. The Lt. Governor was apprised of the proposal to augment last mile connectivity with metro stations by deploying eco- friendly vehicles by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Baijal suggested involving Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) in the matter. At the meeting, Baijal directed the authorities concerned to devise standard operating procedures for disposal of dust collected through mechanical sweeping of roads. The municipal corporations as well as the PWD are procuring vacuum cleaning machines for roads. “All the three municipal corporations informed that they will receive the first lot of Mechanical Road Sweepers (MRS) by July 15. PWD informed that six MRSs are functioning under it while a global tender has been floated for additional six machines,” the statement said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court-mandated EPCA today expressed concern over falling air quality in the national capital against the backdrop of farm residue burning gaining pace across the northern region. The EPCA (Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority), that spearheads crucial anti-pollution measures, also warned the state governments of the northern states to stop being in “denial” and get their act together. EPCA chairman Bhure Lal asked the state governments of Punjab and Haryana to consider setting up air quality monitoring centres in rural areas so that people realise the enormity of the situation before setting their fields on fire. He said the states need to explore, on a war-footing, measures to wean farmers away from the practice of burning crop residue and dismissed the contention of Punjab and Haryana that the situation was not “that bad”. “The situation has to be tackled. It is going out of hand. We have to stop being in denial and desist from jugglery of numbers to paint a rosy picture,” he told the representatives of the states in a meeting of the body. According to EPCA data, around 10 per cent of the days since March 1 have witnessed “very poor” air quality while the rest have seen AQI (air quality index) in the moderate to poor categories. “It is also to be noted that the days when air quality was ‘very poor’, wind speed was also very low. The situation is gradually turning bad,” an EPCA member said. In the meeting, it was decided that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will monitor air quality on a regular basis and advice the SC-appointed body to further firm up measures if required. According to satellite data, the agricultural landscape of Punjab and Haryana is dotted with fires billowing out pollutant-laden smoke as farmers have set fire to the residues of the Rabi crop to usher in the Kharif season. In fact, according to the data of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the practice seems to have spread across the country and the situation was grim in parts of Central India. The Comprehensive Action Plan for air pollution, drafted by the EPCA which has been submitted to the Supreme Court, has pitched for a strict enforcement of ban on burning of agriculture waste and crop residues. Prolonged exposure to ‘very poor’ category air may cause respiratory illness, CPCB guidelines say. Children, elderly and the sick are considered most vulnerable to the harmful effects of hazardous air.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After lying in cold storage for five years, an ambitious anti-pollution plan of the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government is set to get a fresh lease of life. The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority plans to build on its suggestions in preparing a fresh roadmap to clean the city’s foul air. The 10-point action plan had envisaged to augment the city’s bus fleet to 15,000, set up 14 bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors by 2016, introduce variable time-based parking rates, increase road tax on private vehicles and ensure an early roll out of Euro VI emission standards. Incidentally, the only BRT corridor that Delhi had till last year has been dismantled by the AAP government due to its “faulty design” while the city continues to battle an acute crisis of buses, number of which is yet to cross even the 6,000 mark. It is learnt that the plan had even reached the Cabinet level but did not go further due to political turn of events which saw Dikshit being unseated after 15 years at the helm and Aam Aadmi Party’s ascent to power in December, 2013. Prepared in February 2012, it had even highlighted the need to introduce mechanical or vacuum based street sweeping, a proposal which has gained currency in the recent months, without much success on ground. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) chief Sunita Narain, a member of EPCA, said it would be taken up along with the 42-point action plan of the Union Environment Ministry and CSE’s own action plan in preparing a fresh consolidated roadmap towards improving the city’s air quality. Narain, who herself was involved in the drafting of the Congress government’s plan with the objective to meet ambient air quality standards in Delhi by 2017, said it was one of the most comprehensive such document to have been prepared in recent years. The issue will be discussed in the next meeting of the EPCA, which has been tasked with by the Supreme Court to implement the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to check emergency levels of pollution. (MORE)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>should be used for purchasing equipment for real time air quality monitoring stations being set up in Delhi and NCR. It also modified its earlier direction and said that EPCA should inspect Pollution Under Control (PUC) Centres in the NCR region and submit its reports. Citing the report, the bench said, “Action to combat air pollution from all sources, particularly toxic emissions from combustive sources like vehicles, power plants and factories is critical.” It asked CPCB, EPCA and the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to hold a meeting within two weeks and come out with a comprehensive plan to check pollution in the national capital. “You should go through all the plans submitted by different bodies within two weeks and file a comprehensive plan with regard to checking pollution in Delhi,” the bench said. The apex court had on January 17 warned that the problem of air pollution was very serious and solutions need to be found urgently, rather than in years. The Solictor General had also informed the court that the government has notified the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on January 12 in compliance with the court’s earlier order. The apex court had on December 2 last year accorded its nod to GRAP to tackle different levels of pollution. It had also asked CPCB to upgrade its existing infrastructure and set up additional monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR within six months.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Days after the Delhi government extended the closure of the Badarpur Power Plant, the city’s electricity department today said the facility will have to be made functional during the summer months to ensure uninterrupted power supply. During a meeting of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) here, Power Secretary Varsha Joshi insisted that the coal-based plant, considered a major source of air pollution in the city, needs to operate till the Tughlaqabad sub-station is commissioned to meet the city’s summer demand. However, EPCA member Sunita Narain, the Director General of CSE, made it clear that the sub-station has to be commissioned within a time-frame and there has to be a permanent closure plan for the NTPC-run Badarpur plant. Measures taken under the graded response plan’s ‘severe to very poor category’ will remain enforced for the rest of the winter season, EPCA said, adding the Environment Ministry has renotified the plan by mentioning the required interventions under it. EPCA had rolled out the measures, which included closure of Badarpur plant, blanket ban on garbage burning and firecrackers, in its January 20 meeting after the plan, framed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was notified by the Centre. At the meeting, a representative from the NTPC claimed that the authorities of the plant were complying with all the norms and had managed to bind the emission levels within the safe parameters, but it did not satisfy the EPCA. “The plant will remain closed throughout the rest of the winter season,” Narain said. On January 31, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had extended the closure of the Badarpur plant till further orders. MORE(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Environment NGO’s lauded the Centre’s decision on Monday to empower the EPCA in enforcing a graded response plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR, saying it is an important step for public health protection and it was the time that this national health emergency is taken up as a “serious” issue.The Environment Ministry has empowered the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA) to enforce the graded response plan under which measures like, ‘car-rationing’ odd-even scheme, may be implemented in the Delhi-NCR region if pollution levels touch emergency proportions. “This gives us the handle to respond very quickly. Now it has a legal backing and actions are now very transparent and clear. The emergency measures will be decided on case-to-case basis. This can act as a strong catalyst as the system has been very nimble to address the situation. This is a very important step for public health protection,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director (Research and Advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).”This is meant for the entire NCR. The institutional arrangement on emergency action for the worst situation is that the EPCA and the task force will evaluate the situation and take a decision on a case-to-case basis and on when the emergency measures should be implemented,” she said.A comprehensive plan, prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), was submitted to the Supreme Court on December 2 last year. The apex court had accepted and asked the Centre to notify it. “In pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986), the Central Government hereby assigns the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA…” said the January 12 notification.Greenpeace India also welcomed the move saying it is a “logical and necessary step” and it was high time that this national health emergency is taken up as a serious issue. “We welcome the notification as logical and necessary step. The plan itself is a good first step, but a lot of the actions such as higher parking charges, greater investment in public transport and pollution free mobility, halting garbage burning, strict enforcement of PUC norms and emission standards for power plants and industries – need to be in force all year-round,” said Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India. Greenpeace India said once no country has solved its air pollution problems by tying enforcement of standards to wind conditions only and one of the major shortcoming of the plan is that it does not include other thermal power plants in the region apart from the Badarpur power plant. Referring to an IIT Kanpur study, it said that the study has identified 13 thermal power plants within the radius of 300-kilometre of Delhi that need to be regulated to see significant improvements in the national capital’s air quality.”The graded response plan is silent on the need to shut down these plants in addition to Badarpur in case of an air emergency. It is impossible to tackle Delhi’s air pollution without looking at sources at large distances from the city, hence regional action plans as clearly pointed out by Greenpeace India’s recent report ‘Airpoclypse’ are critical.”It is high time that we take this national health emergency as a serious issue and come out with a National Clean Air Action Plan, as air pollution is killing 1.2 million Indians every year,” it said.As per the notification, high level of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region of Delhi has been a matter of serious concern and requires urgent measures to address the issue, particularly with reference to episodic rises in pollution levels.Emergency measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities will be automatically enforced in the city if level of PM 2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre for two consecutive days.The prescribed standards of PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100 micrograms per cubic metre respectively. During ‘very poor’ air quality, diesel generators must be banned and parking free increased by 3 to 4 times, the plan also recommends among others.