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The environment ministry has set up a high-level committee to propose and monitor solutions to air pollution, which has risen to dangerous levels in and around Delhi, raising serious health concerns. The ministry also asked affected state governments to implement the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to battle pollution. The plan includes control of road and construction dust, garbage burning, power plant and industrial emissions and vehicular movement, an official statement said. The seven-member committee, headed by the environment secretary, will look at short-term and long-term measures.
It will meet at regular intervals to draw up a plan and ensure the enforcement of various measures, it said. The decision comes after environment secretary C K Mishra held a meeting with officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) to assess the situation and work out the future course of action. The other members on the committee are the secretaries of science and technology and biotechnology, additional secretary of Niti Aayog, chief secretary of Delhi, CPCB chairman and a representative of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, the statement said. It was also decided that apart from other directions, the closure of brick kilns, hot mix plants, and stone crushers had to be strictly followed. Public transport had to be intensified and sprinkling of water and mechanised sweeping of roads implemented, it said. The ban on construction, on the use of pet coke and furnace oil had be ensured, for which the respective implementing agencies would held accountable, the statement said. "CPCB has been asked to continuously monitor the situation," it said. In Delhi, pollutants touched calamitous levels as a thick grey smog hung low across the region over the past few days, prompting the authorities to declare schools shut till Sunday, halt construction activities and ban the entry of trucks into the city. The meeting also decided to ensure that the directions issued by the ministry, CPCB and EPCA are implemented by all agencies concerned and "the hotspots" visited regularly to assess the situation, it added.
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