The CPCB action plan stresses upon the need to reduce response time of the Task Force so that people’s exposure to toxic pollutants is reduced
The CPCB has recommended reporting of emissions from vehicles, power plants and garbage burning to respective control rooms. Credit: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy / Flicker
Based on the Supreme Court’s order on November 10 to frame and submit graded response action plan for various categories of National Air Quality, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) submitted its recommendations on December 2).
The court had sought suggestions from Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science and Environment, on how to refine and improve the draft proposal that the CPCB had submitted on November 25. Both the CPCB and Narain carried out further consultation to finalise the proposal.
Besides suggesting setting up of control rooms in State Pollution Control Boards and municipal bodies of NCT Delhi, the report stressed upon the need to reduce the response time of the Task Force so that people’s exposure to toxic pollutants is reduced.
While “Severe” is the worst category of AQI, with PM2.5 at 250 microgram per cubic meter (μg/m3) and above and PM10 401 μg/m3 and above, the “Health emergency” is a new addition to the list of categories. The threshold decided for this category is 300 μg/m3 for PM2.5 and 500 μg/m3 for PM10.
According to this “graded-responsibility action plan", measures proposed for the AQI categories of “Severe” and “Very Poor” should be implemented all through the winter (October 15-February 15)
During emergency situations, the CPCB-headed Task Force will have to suggest additional special measures to quickly bring down the air pollution levels and communicate those measures to concerned Chief Secretary heading the State level committee, to ensure implementation.
The Central Pollution Control Board has recommended to the Supreme Court that following actions should be taken for moderate, poor, very poor, severe and emergency categories of air quality:
- Enforce pollution control in thermal power plants through PCB monitoring.
- Do mechanised sweeping on roads periodically and water sprinkling on unpaved roads every two days.
- Identify unpaved roads with heavy traffic and inform about it to respective Municipal Commissioners.
- Ensure strict vigilance to stop plying of visibly polluting vehicles and impound them or levy heavy fine.
- Enforce rules for controlling construction-related dust and close non-compliant sites.
- Divert non-destined truck traffic and ensure only trucks registered after 2005 are allowed entry into the national capital.
- Disseminate information about the pollution levels and contact details of control room through social media and mobile Apps.
- Empower people to report polluting activities or sources to the concerned authorities through apps and social media.
- Reduce operation of coal-based power plants in the NCR by shutting down Badarpur power plant.
Precautionary measures recommended
While the CPCB-led Task Force will inform people about the dangers of exposure to high levels of pollution, people, on their part, are expected to take precautionary measures:
- Stop use of coal/firewood in hotels and open eateries
- Provide electric heaters to security staff of Residential Welfare Associations during winters to prevent them from burning woods.
- Stop garbage burning in landfills
- Avoid undue and prolonged exposure to pollution if an individual is suffering from heart diseases, asthma and other respiratory diseases.
- Suspend all outdoor activities and sport events during “Severe” and “Very Poor” conditions
- Report emissions from vehicles, power plants and garbage burning to the respective control rooms
- Refrain from using diesel and kerosene generators.
- Maintain vehicles properly (PUC certificate, replace car air filter, maintain right tyre pressure)
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