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Health Emergency Declared In Delhi-Ncr Region

Owing to a spike in the air pollution since Diwali, The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) declared a ‘Public Health Emergency’ in Delhi NCR and adjacent regions as the pollution levels entered the severe plus category.

A blanket of smog has developed and thickening in the national capital, with the overall air-quality index settling at an alarming 484. The EPCA has directed the State Governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to follow the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to ensure ceasing of construction activities in Delhi, Faridabad, Noida, Gurugram and adjoining areas, shutting down of hot mix plants and coal-based industries, all industries those other than PNG are banned. A complete ban on bursting of firecrackers has also been announced till the end of this winter season.

The spike in the air pollution was solely reasoned to firecrackers burnt by the people on Diwali night.  As per the EPCA Chairman, “The firecrackers, traffic on Diwali and stubble burning led to more pollution while the weather conditions such as cyclonic winds in the Arabian Sea and low wind speeds are not helping Delhi NCR’s cause”.

The EPCA has also asked states to take strict action against stubble burning and issue advisories to schoolchildren so that their exposure to hazardous air can be limited. This means outdoor activities need to stop and senior citizens those with asthma need to stay indoors.

A new analysis of the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC), shows the average citizen living in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) region of India can expect to lose about 7 years of life expectancy because of air quality fails to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guideline for fine particulate pollution. This is due to a 72 percent increase in pollution from 1998 to 2016 in the region that is home to about 40 percent of India’s population.

About GRAP:

  • A Graded Response Action Plan is a set of stratified actions that are taken once the pollution level reaches a certain specified limit. The Supreme Court had mandated the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to come up with such a plan. It is headed by EPCA at present
  • The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).
  • Before the imposition of any measures, EPCA holds a meeting with representatives from all NCR states, and a call is taken on which actions has to be made applicable in which town.

SOURCE: The Hindu, Economic Times

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