Ahead of the approaching winter season, when stubble burning peaks leading to dangerous levels of air pollution, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Dr P K Mishra, Friday chaired a meeting of the high level task force constituted to improve air quality in the National Capital Region of Delhi.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh; secretaries of different departments/ministries of the central government, including Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Agriculture, Roads and Petroleum; and Central Pollution Control Board.
Dr Mishra said that the meeting was called “to ensure proper precautionary and preventive measures to combat the causes of air pollution are taken well in time”. A review of the main sources of air pollution, measures taken and the progress made by the State governments and various ministries was carried out. It was noted that the incidence of stubble burning has reduced by more than 50 per cent in last two years and the number of ‘Good AQI’ days have gone up.
The efforts and plan made by Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for control of crop residue burning were examined in detail, including ground level deployment and availability of machinery for in-situ management of crop residue.
Officials said that after a recent inclusion of residue based power/fuel plants under priority sector lending by Reserve Bank of India, both State and Central governments should jointly work out action plans for rapid deployment of such units.
Measures related to diversification of crops and strengthening of supply chains were also discussed.
Dr Mishra said that there needs to be effective implementation of the existing in-situ management of crop residue scheme of Ministry of Agriculture by the states, and emphasised that state governments should ensure that the new machinery to be deployed in the current year should reach the farmers before the start of the harvesting season. The Ministry of Agriculture was directed to provide all necessary support in this regard.
To control stubble burning, adequate number of teams are to be deployed at ground level and ensure that no stubble burning takes place especially in Punjab, Haryana and UP.
Government of Delhi was also asked to ensure measures to control local sources of pollution.
It was decided that Haryana and UP would prepare and implement similar site specific action plans in their area falling under NCR. Dr Mishra added that focus should also be laid on compliance of emission norms by industries in satellite industrial area.
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