A few months ago, the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted a survey and found Delhi to be the most polluted city in the world. In fact, recent reports show that Beijing and Delhi are neck-to-neck in air pollution levels. The pollution levels have reached such a high that a study has stated that half of Delhi’s 4.4 million schoolkids will never be able to recover full lung capacity, thanks to pollution.
To counter this menace of air pollution and offer safe environment to kids as well as elders, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr Harsh Vardhan chaired a meet on the issue of tackling air pollution. Emphasising that tackling pollution is a collective responsibility of all the stakeholders and that cooperation from all is required, Dr Harsh Vardhan expressed confidence that pollution will be tackled in a holistic manner next year.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said all sources that have been identified will be tackled to ensure mitigation of air pollution is done effectively in the National Capital. He added the Government of Delhi will work closely with all agencies. The meeting noted that the air quality in 2017 was better than the previous year. The number of good, moderate and satisfactory days in 2017 were 151, whereas the same were 109 days in 2016. Similarly, the number of very poor, poor and severe days in 2017 are 181, as compared to 214 days in 2016.
Decisions taken at the meeting included strict measures to be taken for controlling dust pollution. Dust from major construction sites will be monitored closely and any violation will be dealt with strictly. Mechanised sweeping to be taken up on large scale. Also, fire from municipal solid waste dump sites will be tackled in an urgent manner. Innovative approaches, in consultation with Department of Science and Technology, will be adopted to ensure the issue is tackled.
It was also brought to notice that a task force committee headed by principal secretary to Prime Minister is examining the issue of stubble burning. It was further noted that an action plan to address this issue will be ready in the next one month. It was decided that the decision regarding ban on pet-coke and furnace oil will be enforced strictly in all NCR states; to decongest roads and channelise parking, Delhi Police will be requested to tackle the issue and steps will be taken to increase availability of public transport in the medium term.
The month of January next year will witness an “anti-pollution drive” for 15 days wherein there will be concerted action to tackle the issue of air pollution by all the agencies and close interaction will be maintained with science and technology institutions to use innovative technologies available.