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Graded Response Action Plan

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Pollution and conservation-related issues


Source: Indian Express

Direction: No need to remember/note down all the parameters. Just know a few basic points and implementing agency.

Context: Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has recently said that GRAP will be enforced in  Delhi NCR with immediate effect to combat deteriorating AQI in the region.

What is GRAP?

A graded Response Action Plan is a set of emergency measures that kick in to prevent further deterioration of air quality once it reaches a certain threshold.


It is based on a plan that was submitted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2016. The GRAP was first notified in January 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Various stages:

  • Stage 1 of GRAP is activated when the AQI is in the ‘poor’ category (201 to 300), and On Wednesday, for instance, the AQI in Delhi was 211.
  • The second, third and fourth stages will be activated three days ahead of the AQI reaching the ‘very poor’ category (301 to 400), ‘severe’ category (401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ category (above 450)
  • Data Source: For this, the CAQM is relying on air quality and meteorological forecasts by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).


How is it different this year:

  • Implementing agency: From 2021 onwards, the GRAP is being implemented by the
    • The orders and directions of the CAQM will prevail in case of any conflict between directions issued by the State governments and the CAQM.
    • Measures under the different categories of the plan are to be enforced by the pollution control boards of the NCR states and the concerned departments and agencies, including the traffic police, the Transport Department and road-owning and construction agencies.
  • Pre-emptive measures: In the version of the GRAP 2017, measures kicked in after pollution concentrations reached a certain level.
    • This year, measures are pre-emptive and will kick in based on forecasts in an attempt to prevent the AQI from deteriorating further.
  • Wider pollutants range: The older version of the GRAP was enforced based only on the concentration of 5 and PM10.
    • This year, GRAP is being enforced based on the AQI, which takes other pollutants also into accounts, such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.

Measures that will be enforced this year

  • For the first time, it specifies that State governments in the NCR may impose restrictions on BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers under Stage-3 (severe category).
  • Restrictions on some construction activities will also be set in earlier in the revised GRAP, i.e in the ‘severe category’ stage instead of “severe +” compared to earlier.
  • Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe +’ category this year.
  • Also under the ‘severe +’ category, State governments may consider additional emergency measures like the closure of schools, plying of vehicles on an odd-even basis etc.
  • Guidelines for the public: The revised GRAP also has a set of measures for the public to follow under various categories of pollution levels.


Mains Links:

Q. What is a graded response action plan (GRAP)? Discuss the effectiveness of such plans in solving the issue of air pollution in cities like Delhi. (250 words)


Prelims Links:

In the context of WHO Air Quality Guidelines, consider the following statements (UPSC 2022)
1. The 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m3 and the annual mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 ug/m3.
2. In a year, the highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of inclement weather.
3. PM10 can penetrate the lung barrier and enter the bloodstream.
4. Excessive ozone in the air can trigger asthma.

Which of the statements given above is correct?
(a) 1, 3 and 4
(b) 1 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4
(d) 1 and 2 only

Answer – B

As per the new guidelines recommended air quality levels by WHO (revised after 16 years), the 24-hour mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 15 ug/m3 and the annual mean of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 ug/m3. The highest levels of ozone pollution occur during periods of sunny weather and not during inclement weather. PM 2.5 can penetrate the lung barrier and PM 10 can only lodge inside the lungs. Excessive ozone in the air can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and cause lung diseases.


Which of the following are the reasons/factors for exposure to benzene pollution? (UPSC 2020)

  1. Automobile exhaust
  2. Tobacco smoke
  3. Wood burning
  4. Using varnished wooden furniture
  5. Using products made of polyurethane

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Answer: D