With peak pollution season approaching, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought suggestions from Delhi’s residents on how to combat pollution in early winter months. At the Delhi Secretariat Friday, Kejriwal also said air pollution in Delhi is decreasing and the capital has witnessed a 25% drop in the average presence of particulate matter of 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) in the air.
Citing data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the CM said that between 2012 and 2014, the annual average PM 2.5 concentration was 154, which reduced to 115 between 2016 and 2018. “At a time when pollution is increasing across cities in the country, it is declining in Delhi. This despite the fact that population and traffic in Delhi have increased,” the CM said.
“Steps being taken in the last few years appear to be working in the right direction. We want to thank the central government, MCDs, the Supreme Court… and the people of Delhi. We have achieved this together,” he said.
He said the capital faces a challenge between October 25 and November 20 every year, when smoke released from the burning of stubble in nearby Haryana and Punjab veers towards Delhi, blanketing it with smog and turning it into a “a gas chamber”.
“I met the Haryana Chief Minister as well as the Union Minister for Environment and got assurances of positive steps in this regard. At the same time, we must prepare ourselves to protect our families,” the CM said.
He added that the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi is working on a long-term plan to reduce pollution, which would be shared next week. In the meantime, residents can send their suggestions on how to combat air pollution to email@example.com before September 12, he said.
Kejriwal credited the reduction in air pollution levels to a number of factors, including reduction in use of diesel generators after improvement in the power sector with 24/7 electricity supply in Delhi.
He said that in 2014, 11.7 crore units of power was cut, which was reduced to 1.7 crore units in 2018. “In surrounding cities of Delhi, including Gurgaon and Noida, 25.5 lakh kVA worth of capacity exists in generator sets. If there is just a two-hour power cut in these cities, the generator sets alone generate 1 tonne of particulate matter.”
Kejriwal also thanked the Centre for its role in building the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways, which has reduced the number of trucks entering Delhi. Environment compensation charge being levied on trucks entering Delhi also acted as a deterrent, he said. “A report shows that because of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, truck traffic has reduced by 30% and pollution has gone down by 7%.”
Among other factors that contributed to the reduction in pollution was the decrease in dust emanating from construction sites; large-scale plantation of trees; shutting down of two thermal power stations; and increase in forest cover, the CM said.