Every year on December 2, National Pollution Control Day is observed. The day is aimed at commemorating those who lost their lives in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy of 1984.
National Pollution Control Day 2022
In India, there are over 7 million air pollution-related fatalities annually, of which 4 million are caused by indoor air pollution. Nine out of 10 people in the world are said to not have access to clean air to breathe.
The major goal of India’s National Pollution Prevention Day celebrations in 2022 is to raise public awareness of the prudent usage of the industry to avert unanticipated industrial disasters. The purpose of the day is to promote the adoption of pollution control measures to stop environmental contamination brought on by human error and industrial pollutants.
Pollution in Delhi
It is not possible to discuss pollution without mentioning New Delhi. Each year in the winter, the capital of India grapples with poor air quality and thick smog. However, this year was different because November in Delhi was less polluted as compared to previous years. In fact, only three “severe” air quality days were recorded in the city last month, the fewest since 2015. Due to sluggish winds and an increase in stubble burning, the national capital had “severe” air pollution on November 1, November 2, and November 4, according to PTI. The monthly average Air Quality Index was 320 (extremely poor), which is the second-best mark after 2019 (312).
According to PTI, experts attributed Delhi’s relatively better air quality to the proactive implementation of curbs on pollution-causing activities, a decrease in the share of stubble burning in the city’s pollution, and moderately favourable meteorological conditions.
Delhi has 12 more “severe” air quality days than at the same time last year. Seven such days in 2019, five in 2018, seven in 2017, ten in 2016, and nine such days in 2020 were noted. According to the news agency PTI, the average AQI in November of last year was 380, 328 in 2020, 312 in 2019, 335 in 2018, 361 in 2017, 374 in 2016, and 358 in 2015.
Punjab, which records the greatest number of stubble-burning incidents each year, reported only 49,922 farm fires this season (September 15 to November 30), down from 71,304 last year and 83,002 in 2020, according to the Indian Agriculture Research Institute. The number of stubble-burning occurrences in Punjab was 50,738 in 2019, 59,684 in 2018, 67,079 in 2017, and 1,02,379 in 2016.
While the pollution is relatively better than the previous years, it does not imply that it is not severe and hazardous to health anymore. In order to deal with the rising pollution, GRAP is being applied in Delhi.
What is GRAP?
When the air quality in the Delhi-NCR area hits a specific level, a set of emergency measures known as GRAP takes effect to stop further deterioration. The plan was developed following numerous meetings that the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) held with state government representatives and experts. It was approved by the Supreme Court in 2016 and made public in 2017. The end result was a plan that formalised the actions to be taken when the air quality declined.
Since GRAP is incremental in nature, the actions indicated in both sections must be taken when the air quality goes from “poor” to “very poor.” When the AQI is in the “poor” category (201 to 300), Stage 2 is triggered, Stage 3 is when it is in the “severe” category (401-450), and Stage 4 is when it rises to the “Severe Plus” category (more than 450).
How GRAP is different this year?
The GRAP was updated by the CAQM earlier this year. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change initially informed the GRAP in January 2017. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) published a proposal in November 2016 that served as the basis for this. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the NCR, which has since been disbanded, was given the responsibility of implementing the GRAP, per the notification. The CAQM will begin implementing the GRAP in 2021.
Preventative measures are being implemented this year in an effort to stop the air quality from getting worse, as opposed to previous years when measures were implemented after pollution concentrations reached a certain level. The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department’s air quality and meteorological forecasts are used by the CAQM to make these decisions.