On Sunday morning, the overall air quality in Delhi was categorized as ‘moderate,’ recording an AQI of 164, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). SAFAR data at 8:30 am indicated an AQI of 139 at IIT Delhi and 152 on Mathura Road. Noida reported a moderate AQI of 169, while Gurugram registered a ‘satisfactory’ AQI of 88. Despite the general AQI falling within the moderate category, several areas in the national capital reported a ‘poor’ AQI. SAFAR data showed Dhirpur with an AQI of 235, and Delhi University with an AQI of 256. According to the Central Pollution Control Board data at 8:30 am, Anand Vihar recorded an AQI of 258, and Rohini at 219. Following the AQI scale, air quality checks between 0 and 50 are considered “good,” 51 and 100 are “satisfactory,” 101 and 200 are “moderate,” 201 and 300 are “poor,” 301 and 400 are “very poor,” and 401 and 450 are “severe,” with “severe+” denoting an AQI exceeding 450.
In terms of today’s weather, the meteorological department has forecasted mainly clear skies, with maximum and minimum temperatures expected to reach around 36 and 22 degrees Celsius, respectively, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). In the previous day, the air quality was classified as “poor,” with the maximum temperature settling at 35.5 degrees Celsius, slightly above the seasonal average, as reported by IMD. The minimum temperature recorded was 20.9 degrees Celsius, marginally below the seasonal average. As the Air Quality Index (AQI) entered the “poor” category, the initial phase of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was activated by the government. On Friday, the Centre’s air quality panel directed authorities in the National Capital Region to implement a ban on coal usage in hotels and restaurants and to take punitive measures against polluting industries and thermal power plants due to the decline in air quality to the “poor” category in Delhi. This initiative is part of the government’s pollution control plan known as the ‘Graded Response Action Plan’ (GRAP), implemented in Delhi-NCR to combat air pollution during the winter season.
Under GRAP Stage 1, there is a requirement to halt work at private construction and demolition projects with a plot size equal to or exceeding 500 sqm if they are not registered on the state government’s portal for remote monitoring of dust mitigation measures. Authorities are also instructed to impose a complete ban on the use of coal and firewood in tandoors at hotels, restaurants, and open eateries. Furthermore, punitive action is mandated against polluting industrial units and thermal power plants within 300 kilometers of Delhi. Ensuring the proper implementation of guidelines for dust mitigation at construction and demolition project sites and sound environmental management of resulting waste is also a key aspect of Stage 1. Transitioning to GRAP Stage II, measures include an increase in parking fees to discourage private transport and the enhancement of CNG/electric bus and metro services.
In Stage III, BS III petrol and BS IV diesel four-wheelers are barred from operating in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, and Gautam Buddh Nagar. There is also a complete halt on construction and demolition work, except for essential government projects, mining, and stone crushing. Additionally, there is a ban on the entry of light commercial vehicles registered outside Delhi and diesel-powered trucks, medium and heavy goods vehicles (except those involved in essential services). Should GRAP Stage IV be activated, measures such as a ban on all types of construction and demolition work are implemented. State governments are also authorized to decide on online classes for school students and work-from-home arrangements for government and private offices during such situations.