Delhi Current Affairs

SC approves Centre’s Graded Response System to tackle air pollution in Delhi-NCR

The Supreme Court has approved Central Government’s Graded Response Action Plan to tackle different levels of pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The apex court also has asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to upgrade its existing infrastructure and set up additional monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR.

Graded Response Action Plan

The enforcement of action plan will be under orders of Environment Pollution (Control and Prevention) Authority (EPCA). All other authorities will act in aid of such direction. It has enumerated a number of measures which include closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants, intensifying public transport services besides increase in frequency of mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads to tackle problem of pollution.

Common Pollution Code
  • The action plan proposes common pollution code for Delhi-NCR to provide graded response to health emergencies caused by noxious air due to pollution.
  • The code categorises the severity of the pollutants present in the air into four categories- moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very Severe or emergency depending upon the level of pollutants in air.
  • Under it, when particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels are above 250 to 430 micrograms per cubic metre in the ambient air it will be termed as “severe” levels of pollution.
  • After air pollution reaches such alarming proportions, immediate steps will be taken. It includes ban on construction activities and implementation of road space rationing schemes.

China’s capital city Beijing also has a similar pollution code where regular colour-coded alerts are issued based on the levels of toxic particles in the air.

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Supreme Court bans sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR

The Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR in an attempt to keep the rising pollution level of the capital and its surrounding areas under check.

The order of apex means that any sale, purchase or stocking of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR will be rendered illegal. The a ban on firecrackers also links to winter pollution

The Supreme Court ruling also sends a clear message that religious and wedding celebrations take second place to the basic fundamental right to breathe clean air under Article 21.

What SC order says?

  • The licences of the existing firecrackers sellers in Delhi-NCR will be suspended. Government will not issue new licences to any seller in this region.
  • Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) must study the harmful effects of the materials used in firecrackers and submit its report in three months.
  • There is no restriction on bursting crackers as it will be difficult to implement and monitor.

What is the issue?

New Delhi ranks among the most polluted cities in the world. The air quality usually in New Delhi usually worsens during Diwali, when smoke from firecrackers and crops residue burnt in neighbouring states envelops the capital city. Following Diwali celebrations this year, air pollution had increased at an alarming rate, covering the national capital in a blanket of smog for few days. This year Diwali fire crackers had pushed pollution level in Delhi to a dangerous level, worst in past three years. On Diwali night, Particulate Matter (PM) 10 in Delhi ranged from 448 (micrograms per cubic metre) g/m3 to 939 g/m3 as against the national safe standard of 100 g/m3.

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