Delhi’s air quality deteriorates, Gopal Rai calls meeting today


Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai will chair a meeting with departments concerned on Monday on the implementation of mitigating measures under the central government’s pollution control plan, officials said.

Delhi’s air quality dipped to “very poor” levels on Sunday, the first time this season, due to unfavourable meteorological conditions. The capital’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) dropped to 313 (very poor) on Sunday from 248 on Saturday.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a statutory body responsible for proactively implementing the pollution control plan known as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), had on Saturday directed authorities in the NCR to increase parking fees to discourage private transport and enhance the services of CNG or electric buses and metro trains amid a likely increase in pollution levels.

GRAP categorises actions into four stages: Stage I ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI >450).

Stage I mandates the suspension of work at private construction and demolition projects with a plot size equal to or exceeding 500 square metres that are not registered on the state government’s portal for remote monitoring of dust mitigation measures. Authorities are also tasked with enforcing a complete ban on the use of coal and firewood in ‘tandoors’ at hotels, restaurants, and open eateries, along with taking punitive action against polluting industrial units and thermal power plants within 300 km of Delhi.

Ensuring the proper implementation of guidelines for dust mitigation at construction and demolition project sites and sound environmental management of resulting waste is also part of Stage I. Stage II measures involve increasing parking fees to discourage private transport and enhancing CNG, or electric bus, and metro services by introducing additional fleets and increasing service frequency.

Under Stage III, BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers are prohibited from operating in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, and Gautam Buddh Nagar.