The state government on Wednesday announced a 10-point “graded response action plan” (GRAP) to counter the rise of air pollution this winter.
The plan is to be launched on November 26 in all the major polluted cities in Bengal.
The programme will be launched in Kolkata by the mayor and state urban development minister Firhad Hakim in Esplanade, sources said.
GRAP is a set of emergency measures that are imposed to prevent deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.
Stage 1 of the programme is activated when the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), while stages 2, 3 and 4 are imposed as the air quality turns very poor, severe and severe plus.
“As per a National Green Tribunal directive and also to prevent the surge of air pollution during the coming winter we are imposing GRAP for Kolkata and other cities in the state,” said state environment minister Manas Bhuniya.
The action plan includes periodic mechanised sweeping and water sprinkling on roads to suppress dust; ensure disposal of dust and garbage in designated sites; stringent enforcement to stop burning of garbage and also ensure that demolition materials and waste generated from construction sites are properly contained.
The steps also include synchronisation of traffic movements for smooth flow of vehicles; continuously monitoring the implementation of norms at the identified pollution hotspots in the city; strict enforcement of PUC (pollution under control) norms and action against visibly polluting vehicles with heavy fines.
The steps also include “diversion of non-destined truck traffic and reduce 50 per cent of heavy goods vehicles” except vehicles carrying essential commodities or providing essential services.
The goods vehicles are major contributors of pollutants in the city. Strict action is also proposed against the bursting of banned firecrackers and the use of non-complaint DG sets.
The air quality in the city has been consistently in the “poor” region, according to the most automatic air pollution monitoring stations of the city in recent days.
At 9pm on Wednesday, measuring centres at Rabindra Bharati University, Jadavpur and Ballygunge recorded an AQI of 286, 269 and 240, respectively.
“The air quality is likely to worsen soon as the Celsius drops further and the stagnant pool of polluted air will come close to the surface of the earth because of inversion phenomenon,” explained an expert from environment department to The Telegraph.
“It’s one thing to announce a plan, and it’s other to implement it. We expect the environment department to walk-talk their announcement,” said an environmentalist.