The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will in August launch its first comprehensive, and high-octane ‘public programme’ to help clean up Delhi’s extremely toxic air that-as per a global study-kills 80 people a day, Mail Today reports.
“Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has clearly told officials that air pollution is Delhi’s biggest problem. Citizens will be part of this initiative which will have high-impact awareness drives,” a top government official told MAIL TODAY.
The environment department has submitted its action plan with two components – long-term and short-term strategies – to Kejriwal’s office.
The plan looks at greater pollution monitoring, more efficient pollution checks for vehicles and shutting down of polluting industries. The focus is on getting more buses, enforcing a complete ban on burning of leaves, agriculture waste and polluting vehicles and checking dust pollution from construction sites.
Five months after coming to power, the government is looking at overhauling the ineffective annual plantation drives.
Part of the Rs 526-crore budget set aside for the government’s publicity that resulted in criticism from various quarters will be used on measures such as media advertisements and hoardings to persuade people into taking up green practices.
Kejriwal has told all officials supervising the planning and execution of infrastructure projects that they would get a hurdle-free atmosphere, provided green concerns are adequately addressed.
More and more people in the Capital can be seen wearing white surgical masks and installing air purifiers with Delhi’s air having turned the dirtiest in all global cities, according to a WHO study, resulting in the rise of asthma and cases of other related ailments.
A Delhi government report says air pollution has, in the last 14 years, doubled in the Capital. The quantum of particulate matter 10 (particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter that lodge deep in the lungs and blood cells) has gone up from 150 microgram per cubic meter in 2001 to 318 in 2014.
The current PM 10 levels is seven times higher than what is safe (60 microgram per cubic meter). “Some of the measures we need to take over the next months to counter the notorious winter pollution. We also have a one-year plan ready. We will be working closely with other NCR towns for better results. We’re in touch with the Union ministry of environment and forests for effective inter-state compliance,” said a Delhi government official.
The National Green Tribunal which last year ordered all old, polluting vehicles off Delhi roads has held several times that the Capital’s air remains ‘highly polluted’, dangerous to human health and environment, and drastic measures are needed to protect residents against health hazards. The NGT has stayed the ban till arguments from government and other agencies are heard.
The Centre’s response that vehicles are not the main source of pollution has irked the NGT and experts alike. Anumita Roy Chowdhury, senior expert at advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said: “Pollution is rising because of vehicles. This demands emergency measures to protect public health,” she said. The number of vehicles registered in Delhi has increased from 31.64 lakh in 1999-2000 to 88.27 lakh in 2014-15 – a whopping rise of 179 per cent. As many as 5.69 lakh vehicles have been added in the last one year alone.
“The growth in vehicular population cannot be curbed without scaling up public transport. We need to dis-incentivise diesel (the most polluting fuel),” she said.
AAP’s budget has prioritised public transport augmentation. The total proposed expenditure in the transport sector in 2015-16 is Rs 5,085 crore, which is 23 per cent more than 2014-15.
A senior MoEF official said all NCR states have been told to roll-out their clean-up plans, but refused to own up the global study that claimed air pollution kills 80 people in Delhi every day.
Tackling city’s pollution blues
-> A global study says air pollution kills 80 persons a day in Delhi
-> Pollution level has in the last 14 years doubled in the Capital
-> Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tells officials air pollution is DelhiÂ�fs biggest problem
-> Aam Aadmi Party government to launch its campaign against air pollution in August
-> DelhiÂ�fs citizens will be part of this initiative which will have highimpact awareness drives
-> Focus areas include: greater monitoring, more efficient checks and closure of polluting industries
-> Focus also on more buses, ban on burning of leaves and check on dust pollution from construction sites Â�
-> Part of the Rs 526 crore for governmentÂ�fs publicity to be used in this campaign Â�
-> The number of vehicles registered in Delhi has increased from 31.64 lakh in 1999-2000 to 88.27 lakh in 2014-15
-> NGT last year ordered all old, polluting vehicles off Delhi roads. But Centre says vehicles are not the main source of pollution
-> People have be seen wearing masks and instaling air purifiers across the city