The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has issued a direction to combat the worsening air quality in National Capital Region (NCR) and its adjacent areas. This direction was issued on November 5, 2023.
The directive includes the implementation of the revised schedule of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) whenever necessary. This information is available on the CAQM website.
As of November 2, 2023, all actions up to Stage III of the GRAP had already been enforced in the NCR. To address the rapidly deteriorating air quality, a Sub-Committee was convened on November 5, 2023. The committee took into account meteorological forecasts and air quality index data provided by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).
The Sub-Committee noted that the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi has been consistently rising and has now reached the “Severe+” category. Forecasts from both IITM and IMD do not hold out hope for an improvement in the situation, with the AQI expected to remain in the “Severe+” category in the coming days.
On November 4, 2023, at 4:00 PM, the average AQI for Delhi was recorded at 415, showing a continuous upward trend. By 2:00 PM on November 5, the AQI had surged to 461, and at 4:00 PM, it stood at 454. Given the highly unfavorable meteorological and climatic conditions, the AQI is likely to remain in the “Severe+” category.
In response to this alarming situation, the Sub-Committee made a critical decision to implement all actions outlined under Stage IV of the GRAP, specifically for the “Severe+” category (DELHI AQI > 450). These actions include:
- Stopping the entry of truck traffic into Delhi, except for trucks carrying essential commodities, providing essential services, and all LNG/CNG/electric trucks.
- Banning the entry of Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) registered outside Delhi, except for Electric Vehicles (EVs), CNG, or BS-VI diesel vehicles carrying essential commodities or providing essential services.
- Prohibiting the movement of Delhi-registered diesel-operated Medium Goods Vehicles (MGVs) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) in Delhi, except those carrying essential goods or services.
- Banning construction and demolition activities in linear public projects, such as highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, and pipelines.
- Consideration of discontinuing physical classes for students in classes VI – IX, and class XI, conducting lessons online instead.
- Decisions by NCR State Governments and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) regarding allowing public, municipal, and private offices to operate with 50% capacity, with the rest working from home.
- The Central Government’s consideration of permitting employees in central government offices to work from home.
- Contemplation by State Governments of additional emergency measures, such as the closure of colleges/educational institutions and non-essential commercial activities, and implementing an odd-even system for vehicle registration numbers.
Citizens have been urged to follow the citizen charter and cooperate in implementing the GRAP measures to sustain and improve air quality in the region. Special consideration is advised for children, the elderly, and those with respiratory, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, or other chronic diseases to minimize outdoor activities and stay indoors as much as possible.