The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P K Mishra on Friday chaired a high-level task force meeting on air pollution in Delhi-NCR to review preparedness to deal with adverse air quality in Delhi-NCR as the winter season approaches.

During the meeting, Mishra discussed various measures being undertaken to reduce the impact of different sources of air pollution including industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, dust from construction and demolition (C&D) activities; dust from roads and ROWs, burning of municipal solid waste (MSW), biomass & misc. waste; agricultural stubble burning; and dispersed sources. Greening and plantation initiatives to abate air pollution were also deliberated during the meeting.

He also discussed the implementation of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), its monitoring and measures to improve its enforcement at field level. He said that strict implementation of the actions listed in the GRAP by all concerned is critical to prevent worsening of air quality, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

Preventive measures

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) Chairman MM Kutty informed that industries in NCR were shifting to cleaner fuels and out of 240 industrial areas, as many as 211 have already been provided CNG connection. Similarly, out of 7,759 fuel-based industries, as many as 7,449 have shifted to PNG/approved fuels.

He also briefed that there has been an increase in e-vehicles and presently 4,12,393 e-vehicles are registered in NCR. The number of e-buses and battery charging stations has also increased and there are 4,793 EV charging points in Delhi.

As regards the Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste management, CAQM informed that 5 C&D waste processing facilities with a capacity of 5,150 tonnes per day (TPD) are operationalised and one more facility with 1,000 TPD capacity is in pipeline in Delhi.

In Haryana, C&D facility with 600 TPD capacity is operational and 700 TPD is in pipeline. In Uttar Pradesh, 1,300 TPD is operational and 2 facilities is in pipeline. All the states were requested to augment C&D waste processing capacities.

To cut down on paddy stubble burning across Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Mishra instructed close monitoring of the issue by the Chief Secretaries of the three States.

“He advised the in-situ management of paddy stubble through Crop Residue Management (CRM) machines, and use of bio-decomposers. He also advised the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) to improve the technology. Elaborating on ex-situ management of paddy stubble, he advised working on developing economic use of paddy straw,” the PMO said.

He stressed on developing adequate storage facilities for baled straw along with infrastructure for baling, briquetting and pelleting etc for effective ex-situ utilisation of paddy straw. Further, strict adherence to the stipulated targets for co-firing of biomass, with focus on paddy straw, in the thermal power plants biomass was also discussed.

Multi-pronged approach

Mishra emphasised on a multi-pronged approach comprising several measures, such as procurement of biomass pellets, adopting the benchmark price issued by the Ministry of Power, expanding gas infrastructure and supply in the entire NCR region by March 2024, and ensuring expeditious supply of biomass on demand.

Further, there should be intensified drives to replace overaged vehicles, vehicles which are visibly polluting because of overloading and other reasons, and stricter implementation of actions envisaged in the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) by all concerned.