Air pollution is not a problem of Delhi and its corporations alone but that of a big airshed around it that includes the National Capital Region (NCR), Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Sunday. Speaking through a Facebook Live session, Javadekar said the Centre and the four NCR states have to work together to tackle the problem.
“The first time I took charge as environment minister, I held a meeting with all (NCR) states because this is not a problem of Delhi, corporations… This is an airshed and the airshed is big. It includes Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, areas of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and even Alwar in Rajasthan,” said Javadekar.
An airshed, in geography, is defined as a region in which the atmosphere shares common features with respect to dispersion of pollutants; in other words, a region sharing a common flow of air. Experts have said the measures taken to reduce air pollution in Delhi need to be applied across NCR, which shares the same airshed as the capital.
Javadekar said the Centre has taken a number of steps to reduce air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR, including opening the peripheral expressway around the capital which diverts non-Delhi destined traffic away, and also bringing in rules for management of construction and demolition waste, which can be a source of dust if not handled properly.
The minister said he holds a meeting with ministers from all NCR states once a year on pollution-related matters. Additionally, he said, “Cabinet secretary holds a meeting once (a year), principal secretary also holds it once, environment secretary holds it twice, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) holds it three-four times every three months, a task-force (on air pollution) also holds meetings,” he said.
Through several such meetings in the last five years, Javadekar said the Centre has drawn short-term, medium-term and long-term plans for controlling air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
A review meeting is also held on compliance to these plans and this year over winter, 50 teams of the CPCB will also inspect violations of pollution control measures in the NCR. “In 100 other cities, we will do the same work, which will result in the Prime Minister’s promise becoming true and in the next three-four years, we will see a good improvement in our air quality,” Javadekar said.
Air quality index (AQI) of Delhi improved on Sunday within the ‘poor’ category, with a reading of 254, lower than 287 recorded on Saturday. As per a forecast from the Central government’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) the AQI is expected to stay in the higher end of ‘poor’ to the lower end of ‘very poor’ category for the next two days.