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What do you understand by Graded Response Action Plan? Explain how it is supposed to work.

A Graded Response Action Plan is a set of stratified actions that are taken once the pollution level reaches a certain specified limit. The Supreme Court had mandated the Environmental Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) to come up with such a plan. The Union Environment Ministry has recently announced this plan for Delhi and National Capital Region.

How does it work?

There are several limits specified under the plan. The limits are that of the pollution level or more specifically the concentration of Particulate Matter. When the concentration reaches a certain limit say, 100 micrograms per cubic metre of Particulate Matter, several steps to control pollution has to start, like water sprinkling on the roads, sweeping roads more often, etc. When the pollutant concentration reaches a little higher level, there can be a ban imposed on firecrackers, and other fuel use, etc.

It is the task of the Environmental Pollution Control Authority to find out the particulate matter levels in each state by the help of a task force. Then a proper scrutiny is done regarding the concentration levels. If it reaches the specified limit in any state, the Environmental Pollution Control Authority orders various departments to start functioning in order to control these levels.

The various departments are given a set of various tasks beforehand. These departments might include the transport department, public works department, etc. They are supposed to carry out these tasks so that the pollution level is controlled at an early stage.

It is called a ‘graded’ plan because it does its function step by step. There are separate tasks for separate pollution concentration levels. In this way, gradually, pollution control is done. But it is not the role of any one specific department. It is a task of several departments coordinated together. The main objective of the plan is to avoid strict pollution control measures all of a sudden and respond to the problem gradually.

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