‘State govts should fight air pollution jointly’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 19, 2020

Construction activities may be hit if atmospheric pollution load goes up in the capital and the situation worsens further, fear small-time contractors and workers   -  Kamal Narang

If there is political will, the stubble burning problem can be resolved in a year: Kejriwal

The worsening air quality in the National capital ahead of winter season has emerged as a bone of contention between the Centre and the Delhi government. Reacting to Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar’s recent comment that it may take up to four years to clean up Delhi air, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said it could be done earlier if the Centre was willing to engage Chief Ministers of the North Indian States through monthly meetings rather than having a dialogue with just State Environment Ministers.

‘Can be resolved’

“Till now, the Central government has been doing meetings with the Environment Ministers of the States but this is a big issue. So, I would request the Union Environment Minister to have meetings with the CMs of these four States every month to come up with a solution as they are the one affected by stubble burning,” said Kejriwal.

He also disagreed with Javadekar’s contention that crop residue burning was not a big contributing factor to air pollution in the capital and surrounding cities so far this year. Kejriwal felt that if there is political will, the problem of stubble burning can be resolved in one year. Urging the State governments in North India to join hands to launch a joint war against air pollution, Kejriwal said: “If all the governments work hard and make honest efforts, we can substantially reduce pollution due to stubble burning in a short period of time.”

Worrisome AQI

According to air quality data available on the portal of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the average air quality index (AQI) across 36 monitoring stations in the capital was 244 at 4 pm on Monday. Though it was a slight improvement over Sunday’s 254, it continues to be in “poor” category. In comparison, AQI over many other North Indian cities, including Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi, and Ballabgarh, was in “very poor” category.

Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that the ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ initiative will start from October 21 and continue till November 15. It will cover 100 crowded red light signals in the national capital.

“Delhi Police has identified 100 key traffic signals and the Delhi government will deploy a total of 2,500 environment marshals to carry out this campaign. Local SDM and traffic police ACP will monitor the campaign and if required transport department’s deputy commissioner (enforcement) will also oversee the campaign,” said Rai.

This campaign will be effective between 8 am and 8 pm. The initiative is part of the ‘Yuddh, Pradushan Ke Viruddh’ campaign that promotes switching off the vehicle’s engine while waiting at the red signal.

National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC)claimed that all thermal power units (two 490 MW units and four 210 MW units) at NTPC Dadri, located very close to the capital, have flue gas emissions and particulate matter well within the CPCB norms.

For sulphur oxide reduction, dry sorbent injection system has been installed in all 210 MW units for the first time in the country, flue-gas desulphurisation system is in advanced stage of implementation in 490 MW units by public sector BHEL with technology from Japanese Mitsubishi Power Works, NTPC said in a statement.

Published on October 19, 2020

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