With poor air quality in the national capital becoming a cause of concern, NCRPB, an urban planning body for the NCR, on Tuesday directed Delhi and adjoining states to submit action plans to control air pollution. Underlining that air pollution in Delhi is a matter of “serious concern”, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, who chaired the meeting of the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCPRB), said Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab should act in unison to mitigate the suffering of the people being caused by air pollution, an official release said.
The chairman of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also informed that an action plan has been prepared under the directions of the Supreme Court in the context of high levels of air pollution in Delhi in November this year. The Board also asked the states to consider the ‘Comprehensive Study on Air Pollution and Green House Gases in Delhi’ by IIT Kanpur to address air pollution problems. Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been asked to increase forest and tree cover in the NCR gradually in a phased manner to 20 per cent of total geographical area while expressing concern over present cover of only 3.30 per cent in 2012.
The NCRPB asked the NCR states to improve forest cover, besides directing them to speed up inter-state connectivity for seamless travel in the region. It also clarified that the definition of Aravali Hills would follow 1992 notification of Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate change and the same would guide identification and delineation of Aravalis in the entire NCR. Regarding definition of forest, member states have been asked to go by the provisions of existing statutes and laws till the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change finalises the same with the approval of the Supreme Court.
Delhi considers a land parcel of one hectare as forest if it has 100 natural grown trees. The Board also clarified the position regarding demarcation of Aravalli range and delineation of Natural Conservation Zones (NCZ). “It said that the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment & Forests in 1992 has clearly explained for districts of Gurgaon in Haryana and Alwar in Rajasthan for regulating certain processes and operations in specified areas of Aravalli range and this notification would guide identification and delineation of Aravallis in the entire National Capital Region,” the release said.
States were also told that delineation of Nature Conservation Zones (NCZ) including Aravallis in sub-regional plans should be based on “ground truthing” and verification of revenue records by the states, it added, adding NCRPB has no role in such delineation. The Board has also authorised the NCRPB Secretariat to initiate preparation of Regional Plan-2041 for NCR Region.
The Board also discussed 14 inter-state connectivity links, including Kalindi by-pass road from Ashram Chowk to Faridabad by-pass; Mehrauli–Gurgaon Road which would ease traffic on NH-8, and connecting Nelson Mandela T-Point at Vasant Kunj with the existing Gurgaon-Mehrauli Road, with the aim of facilitating seamless travel in the Region. Besides Naidu, Union Minister of State for Urban Development Rao Inderjit Singh, Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar, Haryana Forests Minister Rao Narvir Singh, Delhi Urban Development Minister Satyanedra Jain, among others were present in the meeting.