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Government Holds Meeting to Discuss Air Pollution Management

Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav

To address the issue of air pollution in Delhi and the NCR region, Union Minister for Environment, Forests, and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav convened a virtual meeting with the Environment Ministers of the NCR region, GNCTD, and Punjab to review the activities undertaken and planned by the States. 

Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister of Haryana and State Environment Minister, attended the meeting, as did Hemaram Choudhary of Rajasthan, Gopal Rai of Delhi, Dr Arun Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, and Gurmeet Singh Meet of Punjab.  The meeting was also attended by Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS, MoEF&CC. CAQM provided a detailed presentation on various aspects and challenges of controlling air pollution in the NCR region. CAQM listed the steps taken, directions and advisories issued, as well as the activities planned for air pollution management during this season.

Agricultural stubble burning, industrial pollution, pollution from diesel generator sets, vehicular pollution, electric mobility, dust from roads and open areas, and dust from construction and demolition activity were among the major topics discussed at the meeting.  CAQM reaffirmed the comprehensive policy that was developed and directed for targeted short, medium, and long-term action in various sectors by various agencies involved.

The meeting discussed the magnitude of the problem in light of the estimated paddy straw generation figures provided by the states. All stakeholders are concerned about the issue of stubble burning. The States also highlighted actions taken and planned in response to incidents of paddy residue burning during the meeting. 

The state governments have informed that they have involved local bodies and are providing farmers with innovative machinery to promote in-situ crop residue handling methods. The meeting also discussed expanding the area under bio-decomposers as an important strategy for in-situ stubble management. The states were updated on the status of ex-situ crop residue management and activities undertaken to promote the use of paddy straw as an economic resource. The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) had been revised in accordance with the AQI values, according to CAQM, to make it more understandable and actionable.

GRAP is now working on forecasts to help better plan and execute action. The states of Haryana, Rajasthan, and Delhi were also kept updated on dust control and management efforts. As of September 30, 2022, the area under green cover had grown to 2,72,01,113 plantations. During the period April-August 2022, a total of 240.9 km of road and RoWs in the NCR were greened. 4.7 kilometres in Delhi, 79.4 kilometres in Uttar Pradesh (NCR), 49.4 kilometres in Haryana (NCR), and 107.4 kilometres in Rajasthan (NCR).

Road-owning and maintaining agencies have established sixty (60) Dust Control and Management Cells, with eleven (11) in the NCT of Delhi, eighteen (18) in UP, seventeen (17) in Haryana, and fourteen (14) in Rajasthan. States have also deployed road sweeping and water sprinkling equipment. Efforts are being made to combat pollution caused by construction and demolition dust. The web portal, which is currently operational in Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, requires projects with plot sizes greater than 500 Sqm to register in order to follow directions to control dust from construction activity.

The deployment of anti-smog guns in accordance with the total construction area as a requirement to combat dust pollution was also discussed. The states reported that progress is being made toward transitioning the industry to PNG/cleaner fuels. The Union Minister stated that progress in this area must be prioritised. The meeting also addressed the issue of vehicular pollution. The states were informed that strict action was being taken to ensure that all vehicles had the pollution under control (PUC) certificate. The system of road traffic management was also discussed.

CAQM informed that the continuous use of diesel generators during GRAP will be permitted only for emergency services. The Union Minister had previously met with DISCOM officials to ensure continuous power supply in the region and to discourage the use of diesel generators. A detailed discussion was held on controlling the burning of MSW and open biomass in the NCR region through strict vigilance and enforcement of noncompliance. In Delhi, the use of crackers is completely prohibited, whereas Haryana and Uttar Pradesh allow the use of green firecrackers.

Public awareness and participation, as well as a collaborative effort by all stakeholders, are critical for dealing with the issue of air pollution. All of the State Ministers urged the public to be proactive in combating air pollution in the NCR region caused by airshed conditions. The State Environment Ministers praised the Union Minister for convening this meeting at such a critical time, just before the arrival of winter, to ensure coordinated efforts by the states.

The Union Minister stated that meetings with CAQM, CPCB, DISCOM, NTPC, and state functionaries had taken place and expressed confidence that this participatory and coordinated approach would produce positive results. The Environment Ministers of NCR, GNCTD, and Punjab reaffirmed their commitment to managing air pollution and following all CAQM and Union Ministry directives to address the issue.

First published on: 11 Oct 2022, 11:21 IST

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