What is Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)?

The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was notified by the Environment Ministry in January 2017 as a response to the severe pollution experienced by Delhi and adjoining areas. What is GRAP? Who implements it? Get answers to all these questions in this article. This is an important article for the UPSC exam environment and ecology section.

GRAP Latest News

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), in February 2023, invoked restrictions, including a ban on diesel generator sets, under Stage II of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) due to an increase in air pollution levels in Delhi.

What is the Graded Response Action Plan?

In 2016, the Supreme Court approved the implementation of a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for Delhi and NCR.

  • Pursuant to this, the government notified the GRAP to be implemented through the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA).
  • GRAP was formulated after several rounds of meetings were held between the EPCA and state government representatives and domain experts.
  • Basically, GRAP is a plan to be implemented when the air quality deteriorates.
  • It is an emergency response plan, i.e., to be implemented only when the quality of air goes below a certain threshold.
  • It is to be noted that the plan is exclusive of the other measures taken by the various authorities during the course of the year. Those will continue and this is only an emergency plan.
  • The GRAP is incremental in nature, which means that depending on the air quality index (AQI), several steps and measures are to be taken by designated bodies/agencies.

To know more about the air pollution problem in Delhi, click on the linked article.

The following tables detail the measures prescribed according to the AQI and also information regarding who implements Graded Response Action Plan. The information has been sourced from the official website of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

AQI: Severe+ or Emergency

AQI: Severe

AQI: Very Poor

AQI: Moderate to Poor

                 Images courtesy of https://cpcb.nic.in/

Significance of GRAP

The GRAP is a response mechanism that brings together multiple stakeholders and authorities to respond to a deterioration in the air quality in Delhi-NCR. The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).

GRAP has been outlined in such a way that it fixes accountability and also gives deadlines. The actions to be taken and the implementing agency with the corresponding AQI level are enumerated neatly and clearly. There is also a clear demarcation of responsibilities.

Need of GRAP

As stated above GRAP was introduced as an emergency measure, to be taken when air quality deteriorates. GRAP outlines the steps that several government organisations will take to stop the deterioration of Delhi-air NCR’s quality and keep PM10 and PM2.5 levels from exceeding the ‘moderate’ national Air Quality Index (AQI) category.

Issues seen Recently

  • It was reported that the authorities failed to take action under the “emergency” category of GRAP despite Delhi’s AQI being “severe” for eight out of the ten days following Deepavali. 
  • Instead of waiting for the AQI to worsen, the Supreme Court instructed the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the NCR and Adjoining Areas to implement GRAP-based steps based on air quality predictions. Despite government agencies’ projections that the air quality would worsen, GRAP did not develop in response.

Way Forward

The Graded Response Action Plan should be considered as a living document that will continue to evolve as more experience is gained in its execution. The Government should evaluate air quality projections to execute GRAP measures rather than waiting for the air to be “severe” for days at a time. After the lockdown, the economy was already stressed, therefore it is important to work together to prevent more damage.

It is important to take into account the Central Government’s directives from almost five years ago to “learn from experience” and “calibrate” the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to reduce air pollution.

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP):-Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Graded Response Action Plan


Q1. How does Graded Action Response Plan work?

Ans: GRAP works only as an emergency measure in case of deteriorating air quality in Delhi- NCR. The plan requires action and coordination among 13 different agencies in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan (NCR areas).

Q2. What is the main objective of the GRAP?

Ans: GRAP includes the measures which will be taken by different government agencies to prevent the worsening of Air Quality of Delhi-NCR and prevent PM10 and PM2.5 levels to go beyond the ‘moderate’ national Air Quality Index (AQI) category.

Q3. What are the measures that can be taken when air quality reaches to severe category?

Ans: Air Quality is considered in the category of Severe+ or Emergency when PM 2.5 is over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 is over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours. The measures according to GRAP are:
(i) Stop construction work
(ii) Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities)
(iii) Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools
(iv) Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions
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