Context: As winters approaches, some stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi and its neighbouring National Capital Region (NCR) towns, as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). 

More on the news: Pollution control authorities will begin night patrolling to check for dust and industrial emissions, as well as the burning of waste. 

About GRAP:

  • Formulated in 2016 and notified in 2017: Approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) in consultation with state government representatives and experts.

The EPCA was constituted in 1998 by the Supreme Court. 

The initial mandate of the body was to ensure that Delhi’s bus and auto fleet moves entirely to CNG - a mammoth task that played a crucial role in cleaning Delhi’s air in the late 2000s.

The body continues to monitor pollution, and assists the Supreme Court in several pollution-related matters.


  • Works only as an emergency measure: The plan is incremental in nature - when the air quality moves from ‘Poor’ to ‘Very Poor’, the measures listed have to be followed. 
    • If air quality reaches the ‘Severe+’ stage, the response includes extreme measures such as shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.
  • Significance of GRAP: GRAP has been successful in doing two things that had not been done before - 
    • Creating a step-by-step plan for the entire Delhi-NCR region, and 
    • Getting on board several agencies: The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas). At the head of the table is the EPCA, mandated by the Supreme Court.
  • Achievements of GRAP:
    • Fixing accountability and deadlines: For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked. 
    • Coordination simplified: Coordination among many agencies from four states is simplified to a degree because of the clear demarcation of responsibilities.
  • Criticism:
    • Focus on Delhi: While other states have managed to delay several measures, citing lack of resources, Delhi has always been the first to have stringent measures enforced.
      • For GRAP as well as EPCA, the challenge is to extend the measures to other states effectively.



Severe+ or Emergency

(PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours)

* Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities)

* Stop construction work

* Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions

* Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools


(PM 2.5 over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m.)

* Close brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers

* Maximise power generation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal

* Encourage public transport, with differential rates

* More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water

Very Poor

(PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.)


* Stop use of diesel generator sets

* Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times

* Increase bus and Metro services

* Apartment owners to discourage burning fires in winter by providing electric heaters during winter

* Advisories to people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement

Moderate to poor

(PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.)


* Heavy fines for garbage burning

* Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries

* Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling

* Strictly enforce ban on firecrackers

Image Source: HT