Centre devises Comprehensive Action Plan to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR

FILE PHOTO: Smog engulfs Delhi | Photo: Dalip Kumar
As the heap of dust is gradually enveloping the sky over the Delhi-NCR, the environment ministry has introduced a Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) to combat air pollution in the long-run. The plan will work in collaboration with the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) which comes into effect when air quality degrades. While its draft notification of the plan was put in place by the Centre in March, the ministry released the final plan on Monday.

Keeping in mind the two major changes recommended by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), the plan focusses on the necessity for a strict parking policy in Delhi-NCR and on upgradation of the public transport system.

The government has fixed sector-wise deadlines including air quality monitoring, traffic management, crop burning, and emission control. 

Sunita Narain, a member of EPCA and Director General at the Centre for Science and Environment, spoke to the TOI saying, “The ministry reviewed all measures under CAP for Delhi-NCR. But EPCA has highlighted the need to focus on public transport as well as on a parking policy to encourage people to shift to public transport. We need no deterrence or a suitable system in place, the number of vehicles on the roads will increase.”

The Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) has asked the agencies concerned to ensure strict compliance of shift to BS VI by 2020, expand CNG network across NCR, an introduction of battery-operated vehicles and install vapour recovery systems. Moreover, the plan asks for better traffic management and mentioned a need to improve the frequency of the metro while introducing more buses into the system. 

The plan also requires NCR to work on diverting transit truck traffic and checking overloading. CAP calls for a parking policy that will physically demarcate legal parking areas and penalise people for illegal parking. 

Sunita Narain said actions already implemented under CAP include the shift to “approved” fuels and prohibition on pet coke and furnace oil in industries. “This is already making a huge difference. But we have asked for improvement in pollution monitoring, especially for industries,” Narain told the TOI.

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