Updated: October 4, 2021 7:36:53 pm
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Monday that only buses and taxis coming to Delhi from other states should be converted into CNG and specific areas in the NCR region should be marked as pollution hotspots so that a plan for mitigation can be created to help fight pollution in the region.
Announcing the winter action plan for pollution, Kejriwal said that Delhi’s biggest problem in the coming weeks will be pollution from paddy stubble burning in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana. With assembly elections approaching in Punjab, and the farmer agitation against the three farms laws still on, fining farmers from burning paddy stubble will be an uphill task.
Kejriwal identified ten areas of focus for the season ahead. These include measures to mitigate dust pollution, garbage burning, paddy straw burning and control through the Pusa Bio Decomposer, ban on firecrackers, installing smog towers, monitoring pollution hotspots, controlling vehicular pollution, effective operations of the green war room and the Green Delhi app.
“We launched the Green Delhi app to enable citizen participation in maintaining vigilance against pollution. We received 23,000 complaints on the app and were able to successfully resolve 93% of them. We started a green war woom through which we analyse our fight against pollution in real time… A program management room has been created in collaboration with the University of Chicago and GDI Partners for the green war room. We have recruited 50 new Environment Engineers as well. We have launched the Green Delhi app through which citizens can connect to and let us know wherever they see any instance of pollution. Our team will visit the location and take necessary action,” Kejriwal said.
Strategies to contain pollution take on urgency as winter approaches the city because the accumulation of pollutants in the air becomes easier as it gets colder and the winds get calmer in winter. While Delhi’s baseline pollution is high to begin with – the city did not see a single good air quality day so far in 2021 despite a long and heavy monsoon – paddy stubble burning makes things worse in the end of October and beginning of November as the wind direction carries the pollutants to the city.
Kejriwal said the Delhi government is in touch with the Centre to get states to use the Pusa Bio Decomposer (which helps the paddy stubble decompose quicker, eliminating the need for farmers to set fire to their fields after harvest).
“We appealed to the Centre as well many times, but they too did not do anything. Because of this mess, the farmers outside of Delhi will be compelled to burn their stubble residue. The smoke generated reach and increases the pollution levels here. The Delhi government found a solution to stop stubble burning in the form of the bio-decomposer. We are in touch with the Centre and hope that the solution will be implemented as much as possible,” he said.
The biggest contributor to pollution in the city in winter, meanwhile, is dust as per a source apportionment study done by IIT Kanpur in 2013. Kejriwal said that 75 teams have been constituted to check dust pollution at construction sites. Another 250 teams have been constituted to monitor the incidents of garbage burning, he added.
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