Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan today strongly reiterated that the two-week-long Clean Air Campaign is not just a symbolic exercise, but a serious effort to drastically bring down pollution levels in the national capital. Briefing mediapersons on the Clean Air Campaign to be launched in Delhi on February 10-23. He said that a strong message has to go down that pollution is a serious economic and health issue and is linked to our national image also. The Minister said that efforts to reduce pollution levels will not be restricted to these two weeks only, but taken throughout the year on a continuous basis.
The Centre and Government of Delhi will together launch the intense exercise to address all sources of pollution in Delhi from February 10-23, 2018. This follows from the determination of the Government to tackle the problem in its entirety. Seventy joint teams of officials of Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, CPCB, Delhi Government, DPCC, Municipal Corporations and NDMC have already been constituted. These teams will fan out to every administrative division of Delhi, monitor causes of pollution and initiate remedial measures, including penal actions against serious polluters on the spot.
The Environment Minister said that there is a commitment at the highest level in the country to overcome the issue of air pollution, as reflected by the special provision of budgetary resources to tackle stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Delhi.
“The situation has reached a stage, where we cannot tolerate pollution any more and there has to be an emphasis on Zero Tolerance to Polluters,” said the Minister, appealing to everyone to join in this national effort. He also said that abatement of air pollution has to become a mass movement and the Government will take every possible step towards its success. Dr. Harsh Vardhan urged the media to support the campaign and help in spreading awareness among the masses on the issue.
The Minister emphasised that Delhi generates 131 tonnes of dust every day, and controlling it itself would bring down air pollution drastically, as large-scale construction in Delhi-NCR is one of the major causes for increasing dust and pollution in the air. He added that he has been meeting teachers, students and representatives of civil society to spread awareness on the issue of environment protection and also launched a national campaign named Green Good Deeds recently.
The Centre has recently notified dust mitigation norms to contain dust pollution. This mandates –
No building or infrastructure project requiring Environmental Clearance shall be implemented without approved Environmental Management Plan inclusive of dust mitigation measures;
Roads leading to, or at construction sites must be paved and blacktopped (i.e. metallic roads);
No excavation of soil shall be carried out without adequate dust mitigation measures in place;
No loose soil, or sand, or Construction & Demolition Waste, or any other construction material that causes dust shall be left uncovered,
Wind-breaker of appropriate height i.e. 1/3rd of the building height and maximum up to 10 meters shall be provided;
Water sprinkling system shall be put in place; and
Dust mitigation measures shall be displayed prominently at the construction site for easy public viewing.
The campaign will also include enforcement of pollution-control measures for vehicles, driving discipline, inspection of power plants in Delhi to ensure, it complies with the norms on pollution, etc. Local area development plans to specifically address air pollution will also be worked at and implemented.
In addition to Central and State governments, the drive will also enlist the involvement of Delhi Police, educational institutions, NGOs, industries, apex industrial bodies, Resident Welfare Associations, R&D institutions, etc.
Besides field visits by empowered teams of officials, there will be a series of seminars during the period on mitigation of pollution. These include, workshop on air pollution and health; Air Pollution Abatement Technologies; enlisting support from NGOs, Civil Society, Citizens; Clean Air Day in Universities, Colleges and Schools; a Mini Marathon for Clean Air;enhancing the role of PSUs and industries, apex industrial bodies;launching a national digital forum for discussions on air pollution; Indoor Air Pollution Management and finally, a conference of Environment Ministers of States and Union Territories.
A control room will be set up in CPCB to monitor the daily progress, which will be shared with both the Union and State governments and suggest midway corrections, if required.