GRAP: A Right Step towards Pollution Control and Sustainability

October 15th the enforcement of the third year of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) in and around Delhi and its neighbouring areas (Delhi-NCR). As part of GRAP, the Union Environment Ministry has announced a ban on the non-essential use of Diesel Generators in Delhi-NCR. 

The Scenario

The degrading air quality has led Delhi-NCR area to claim the infamous title of the world’s most polluted city in 2014 and 2016 respectively (surveyed by WHO). The State Government of Delhi, have made efforts to change this bleak scenario in the recent years such as- Odd-Even Regulation, ban on coal-based power plants, suspending construction sites during peak pollution season, and adoption of solar energy plants.

The step to ban non-essential use of diesel generators is a very decisive step to curb pollution. Diesel generators are used routinely to supply electrical power for industrial, commercial, and residential consumers during blackouts. Therefore, the ban should be accompanied by increasing solar energy adoption in the Delhi-NCR area.

In wedding gardens, a 250 KVA DG set (usage of 3 hours per day) emit 0.183 kg/day of PM 10, 3.08 kg/day of NO X and 1.50 kg/day of CO. There are more than 3,000 high rises in Delhi NCR area and most of them use diesel generators in case of blackouts or for celebrations. 

Such practices have kept air quality in Delhi-NCR area extremely poor. However, now with this recent initiative, there is a hope of change. But this opportunity can only be properly utilized with the careful and aggressive installation of solar plant in and around the Delhi-NCR areas. Successfully solving the energy demand/gap left by the diesel generators, saving money overall, and improving air quality with ease. 

Considering the Health Factor

To promote and enforce this new ban on non-essential use of the diesel generators, we need to focus on the health factor. Exposure to diesel exhaust has been identified as a cause lung cancer in occupational settings. This toxic exhaust contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants such as benzene, arsenic, and formaldehyde, which are suspected to cause cancer. Considering that up to 70% of cancer risk is attributable to exposure to toxic air pollutants, it is of immense importance for us to promote and support usage of solar instead of diesel generators. 

Although the spread of COVID-19 has caused us to take a step back, we cannot deny that it had a positive impact on the environment because of the lockdowns. As a result, where Air Quality Index value for March- April 2019 is 656, the value was reduced by half to 306 in March-April 2020. This scenario has made bare the right path for us to walk towards for a quick, healthy, safe, profitable, and interruption-free energy-rich lifestyle transition with the help of solar.

Solar Is the Saviour

Understanding the benefits of solar adoption, solar power generation in Delhi has increased from 7 MW to 177 MW in four years. Delhi has also witnessed a surge in the residential rooftop solar segment, with more than ‘1900 net metering’ connections installed in recent years. In 2019-20, more than 370 rooftop solar net metering customers were added and 245 clients were from domestic category. 

Delhi is well-positioned to become a leader in India’s rooftop solar revolution and it has established solar generation targets of 2 GW (2000 MW) by 2025, in which solar would play a key role to add energy security in the daily lives of communities in Delhi-NCR area.