New Delhi: Over 75 per cent of residents across Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad believe the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — a set of guidelines to combat declining air quality in Delhi-NCR — has not been implemented effectively in their areas and cities, a survey by pollster Local Circles has found.
Several strict measures were implemented in Delhi and the NCR on 15 October under GRAP, which has been in effect for the last three years.
These measures include a ban on diesel generator sets unless for emergency and essential services, night patrolling by pollution control authorities to keep in check dust emissions and waste burning, mechanised sweeping and frequent sprinkling of water on roads.
However, the survey by Local Circles, published Thursday, found that in the two weeks since the measures were implemented, 67 per cent of Ghaziabad’s 1,496 respondents said that “none of the 4 (GRAP measures) are being followed in their areas”.
About 40 per cent of the total 1,010 respondents in Faridabad, 37 per cent of Gurugram’s 1,353 respondents, 33 per cent of Noida’s 1,362 respondents and 29 per cent of the 5,205 people surveyed in Delhi, echoed the same thought.
The percentage of respondents who believed GRAP measures were being followed ranged from 20-25 per cent in all five regions.
The GRAP guidelines were formulated in 2016, after a Supreme Court order, by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) and state experts and representatives.
It is an emergency measure that comes into effect after the air quality index (AQI) moves from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’. In the past few weeks, the Delhi’s AQI has been steadily declining due to stubble burning and the festival season.
Majority of respondents want ban on firecrackers
Since firecrackers are a major contributor to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region, the survey also revealed that a majority of the respondents wanted a complete ban on their sale in the festive season.
In Delhi, 51 per cent wanted a complete ban on firecrackers, 50 per cent wanted the ban in Faridabad, 25 per cent in Noida and 36 per cent in Ghaziabad.
When asked about green firecrackers, 26 per cent of those surveyed in Delhi, 20 per cent in Faridabad and 36 per cent in Ghaziabad were willing to buy them. Meanwhile, in Noida, 62 per cent wanted to trade normal firecrackers for the environment-friendly variant.
However, despite rising pollutions, 21 per cent respondents in Delhi, 2 per cent in Gurugram, 30 per cent in Faridabad, 13 per cent in Noida and 26 per cent in Ghaziabad wanted no restrictions on the sale of firecrackers.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, studies indicate that severe air pollution is likely to be more harmful compared to the past.
A recent study linked air pollution to 15 per cent of the world’s Covid deaths. The government also cited a Harvard study Tuesday, which said fragments of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in suspended particulate matter (pm) that are the major contributors to air pollution.
Another Local Circles survey on air pollution, published on 15 October, revealed that “65% households in Delhi-NCR have one or more individuals who have started experiencing pollution-related ailments”.