Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)



    • Recently, the need was felt to revise the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to accommodate predictions.

    What is the Graded Response Action Plan?

    • GRAP is a set of measures to be taken to reduce Air Pollution depending on the current level of pollution. 
      • It was notified by the Union Environment Ministry in 2017 to fight air pollution, based on the SC directions.
    • GRAP works only as an emergency measure. As such, the plan does not include action by various state governments to be taken throughout the year to tackle industrial, vehicular and combustion emissions. 
    • The plan is incremental in nature — therefore, when the air quality moves from ‘Poor’ to ‘Very Poor’, the measures listed under both sections have to be followed.
    • Severe+ or Emergency (PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours).
      • Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities)
      • Stop construction work
      • Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions
      • Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools
    • Severe(PM 2.5 over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m.)
      • Close brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers
      • Maximise power generation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal
      • Encourage public transport, with differential rates
      • More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water
    • Very Poor(PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.)
      • Stop use of diesel generator sets
      • Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times
      • Increase bus and Metro services
      • Apartment owners to discourage burning fires in winter by providing electric heaters during winter
      • Advisories to people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement
    • Moderate to poor(PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.)
      • Heavy fines for garbage burning
      • Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries
      • Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling
      • Strictly enforce a ban on firecrackers


    • The biggest success of GRAP has been in fixing accountability and deadlines. 
      • For each action to be taken under a particular air quality category, executing agencies are clearly marked. 
    • In a territory like Delhi, where a multiplicity of authorities has been a long-standing impediment to effective governance, this step made a crucial difference. 
      • Also, coordination among as many as 13 agencies from four states is simplified to a degree because of the clear demarcation of responsibilities.

    Recent Issues 

    • GRAP did not evolve to take action in anticipation of deteriorating air quality as per predictions from Government agencies.
    • Many times, the courts have had to intervene for the authorities to take action, which is already mentioned in GRAP.
      • Recently it was reported that despite Delhi’s AQI being “severe” for eight out of 10 days after Deepavali, measures under the “emergency” category of GRAP were not implemented by the authorities.
      • the Supreme Court asked the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and Adjoining Areas to take actions under GRAP based on predictions of air quality rather than waiting for the AQI to get worse.
        • The CAQM is in the process of doing it, as per officials, but an updated GRAP is yet to be notified.


    Image Courtesy:TH

    Way Forward 

    • The Graded Response Action Plan should be seen as an evolving plan and as more experience is gained in its implementation, it should be suitably calibrated
    • the Government should consider forecasts of air quality to implement GRAP measures rather than waiting for the air to be “severe” for days at a stretch.
    • The Central Government’s already gave directions nearly five years ago to “learn from experience” and “calibrate” the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to control air pollution and it must be taken into consideration.

    Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM)

    • Formed by an ordinance, “Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020”, in October 2020.
    • The Commission will be a statutory authority. It will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.
    • Composition: The new 18-member Commission brings together the Centre, states, and other stakeholders on one collaborative platform.
      • Chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary. The chairperson will hold the post for three years or until s/he attains the age of 70 years.
    • Powers & Jurisdiction: It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.
      • Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.
      • The Commission will have the power to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to 5 years in case its directions are contravened.

    Source: TH