In a bid to combat the ongoing severe air pollution crisis in the National Capital Region (NCR), the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has invoked Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). This decision comes into immediate effect and follows the implementation of measures in Stages I, II, and III to curtail the further deterioration of air quality across the region.
The Stage IV action plan comprises an eight-point strategy:
1. Stringent restrictions on the entry of truck traffic into Delhi, with exceptions granted solely to vehicles transporting essential goods or services and those employing LNG/CNG/electric technology.
2. Prohibition of non-Delhi-registered Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) except Electric Vehicles (EVs) and vehicles complying with BS-VI diesel standards from entering Delhi, with the same essential goods/services exception.
3. Suspension of diesel-operated Medium Goods Vehicles and Heavy Goods Vehicles registered in Delhi, again, with exceptions for those engaged in essential goods or services transportation.
4. The immediate halt of construction and demolition activities in linear public projects such as highways, roads, flyovers, overbridges, power transmission, pipelines, and the like.
5. A shift to online classes for students in grades VI to IX and Class XI, thereby minimizing physical classroom gatherings.
6. Mandating that public, municipal, and private offices operate at a reduced 50% capacity, with the remaining workforce encouraged to work remotely from home.
7. Delegating the decision on work-from-home feasibility for employees in Central Government offices to the Central Government itself.
8. Granting authority to State Governments to explore emergency measures, which may include the closure of colleges and educational institutions and the imposition of odd-even vehicle registration number-based restrictions on non-essential commercial activities.
The CAQM emphasizes that individuals, particularly vulnerable demographics like children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, should prioritize indoor activities and minimize outdoor exposure.
This move is seen as a critical step in addressing the alarming air quality crisis that has engulfed Delhi-NCR.