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Delhi sets up 586 teams for inspection as GRAP Stage III kicks in

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The on Sunday set up 586 teams to ensure strict implementation of the ban on construction and demolition activities in the capital after the Commission for Air Quality Management’s (CAQM) ordered on Saturday to impose the Stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).


The CAQM’s decision came when air quality in the national capital touched ‘severe’ levels, with the overall air quality index (AQI) reaching 400 at 12:10 a.m. on Saturday


While there was some relief for the city on Sunday, with overall AQI coming down to 349, experts believe it is momentary. “Drop in temperature, calm winds, and an increase in stubble burning in Punjab will bring back the pollution level in the city,” experts say.


The government has prepared a strong monitoring system to ensure compliance of its directives. It has set up 586 teams comprising officials of various departments, Gopal Rai, environment minister, Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi said.


An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’, and 401-500 ‘severe’. Above 500 is the ‘severe-plus or emergency’ category.


According to air quality forecast agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the AQI will turn ‘severe’ in the coming days with northwest winds from the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh picking up speed gradually, carrying smoke from stubble burning into Delhi.


An India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast says air quality is likely to deteriorate and remain ‘Severe’ from Monday. The outlook for the subsequent six days ranges from ‘Very Poor’ to ‘Severe’.


IMD said calm winds prevailed at night, and that moderate wind speed (up to 8 kmph) is predicted during the day. In cold conditions, pollutants are trapped close to the ground because of low mixing height — the vertical height at which pollutants are suspended in the air.


According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the concentration of lung-damaging fine particles, known as PM2.5, was above 400 micrograms per cubic metre at 10 a.m.–seven times the safe limit of 60 micrograms, in many areas.


The CAQM has also ordered the Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) of NCR and the Control Committee for implementing strict measures under the GRAP.


Under GRAP Stage III, the industries, brick kilns, and hot mix plants which are not operating on fuels, as in the standard list of approved fuels for NCR will be closed.


Stone crushers, mining and associated activities in the NCR will be shut down. State Governments in NCR/ Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi may impose restrictions on Bharat Stage III (BS III) petrol and BS IV diesel Light Motor Vehicles (4-wheelers).


The stubble burning got postponed this season due to the delayed monsoon. But crop burning has picked up pace since Diwali and is expected to increase in the coming days.


Stubble-burning cases in the northern states have increased by 19 per cent from the previous year. A total of 15461 burning events were detected in the six states — Punjab (12112), Haryana (1813), Uttar Pradesh (705), Delhi (5), Rajasthan (227) and Madhya Pradesh (599) — from September 15 to October 29.


Residue-burning incidents saw an increase of 34 per cent in Punjab from the previous year.

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