Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change holds a meeting on air pollution with Environment Ministers of NCR States, GNCTD and Punjab

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav held a virtual meeting with the Environment Ministers of NCR States, GNCTD and Punjab to review the activities being undertaken and planned by the States to manage the issue of air pollution in NCR. The meeting was organized to ensure coordinated action and cooperation of all stakeholders to combat air pollution that affects Delhi NCR region in this season. The meeting was attended by Shri Manohar Lal Khattar, Chief Minister of Haryana who is also in charge of the State Environment portfolio, Shri Hemaram Choudhary, Rajasthan, Shri Gopal Rai, Delhi, Dr. Arun Kumar, UP and Shri Gurmeet Singh Meet, Punjab. Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, MoS, MoEF&CC also joined the meeting.

Commission for Air Quality Management made a detailed presentation on different aspects and challenges with regard to controlling air pollution in the NCR region. CAQM enlisted the steps taken, directions and advisories issued along with the activities planned for management of air pollution during this season. The major sectors discussed in the meeting included agricultural stubble burning, industrial pollution, pollution from diesel generator sets, vehicular pollution, electric mobility, dust from road & open areas and dust from construction and demolition activity. CAQM reiterated the comprehensive policy formulated and directed for targeted short/ medium/ and long-term action in various sectors by different agencies concerned.

CAQM further informed that several meetings have been undertaken with the agencies and State Governments to ensure awareness about management of air pollution, the Graded Response Action Plan and for monitoring and enforcement. The magnitude of the problem was discussed in the meeting in the light of the estimated paddy straw generation figures as provided by the States.

The issue of stubble burning is a prime concern for all stakeholders. Action taken and planned on the incidents of paddy residue burning were also highlighted by the States in the meeting. An update was provided regarding availability and allocation of CRM machinery by the State Governments. The State Governments have informed that they have involved the local bodies and are innovatively providing the machinery to the farmers to promote in-situ methods of handling crop residue.

Expansion of area under bio-decomposers as an important strategy towards in-situ stubble management was also discussed in the meeting. The states informed about the progress in the ex-situ crop residue management and activities undertaken to promote alternate usage of paddy straw as an economic resource.

CAQM shared that the Graded Response Action Plan had been revised as per the AQI values in order to make it more understandable and actionable. GRAP now works on forecasts that will help to plan and execute action better.

The States of Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi also informed about the dust control and management actions being undertaken. The area under green cover has expanded with 2,72,01,113 plantations as on 30.9.2022.  A total of 240.9 km of road / RoWs were greened in NCR during April – August 2022. 4.7 km in Delhi, 79.4 km in UP (NCR), 49.4 in Haryana (NCR) and 107.4 km in Rajasthan (NCR). Sixty (60) Dust Control and Management Cells have been set up by road owning/ maintaining agencies with eleven (11) in NCT of Delhi, eighteen (18) in UP, seventeen (17) in Haryana and fourteen (14) in Rajasthan. States have also deployed machines for road sweeping and water sprinkling.

Efforts are being made to combat pollution from dust from construction and demolition activities. The web portal which is functional in Delhi, Haryana and UP mandates registration of projects on plot size more than 500 Sqm to follow directions to control dust from construction activity. Deployment of anti-smog guns as per the total construction area as a requirement to counter pollution by dust was also discussed.

The States updated that progress is being made on ensuring the shifting of industry to PNG/cleaner fuels. Union Minister asserted that the progress in this regard has to be a priority.

The issue of vehicular pollution was also deliberated upon in the meeting and the States informed about strict action being taken to ensure that all vehicles have the pollution under check (PUC) certificate. Road traffic management systems were also discussed.

CAQM informed that the uninterrupted use of diesel generators shall be permitted only for emergency services during GRAP. The Union Minister had earlier met officials from DISCOM to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the region to discourage the usage of Diesel Gensets.

There was a detailed discussion on controlling the burning MSW and open biomass in the NCR region with strict vigil and action on non-compliance. Bursting of crackers has completely been banned in Delhi, while Haryana and UP have permitted the use of green fire crackers.

Public awareness and participation with combined effort of all stakeholders is critical for handling the issue of air pollution. All the State Ministers appealed for proactive public participation in combating air pollution in the NCR region which was caused by the airshed conditions.

The State Environment Ministers lauded the efforts of the Union Minister to conduct this meeting at a critical time just before the onset of winter to ensure coordinated efforts by the States. The Union Minister informed that meetings have been held with CAQM, CPCB, DISCOM, NTPC and state functionaries and expressed confidence that this participatory and coordinated approach will yield positive results. The Environment Ministers of NCR, GNCTD and Punjab assured their commitment to manage air pollution and to follow all directions of CAQM and the Union Ministry to address the issue.

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