Updated: February 4, 2021 8:31:49 am
Delhi’s fight against air pollution may be bearing fruit, with the Centre informing the Supreme Court that “Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System (CAAQMS) data for Delhi reveals that the annual concentration of PM (Particulate Matter) has decreased gradually since the year 2016”.
Things, however, may still be grim on the stubble burning front, which contributes to the national capital’s air pollution woes, with neighbouring Punjab reporting 44.5% more Active Fire Events in 2020 compared to 2019, according to an affidavit filed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the top court.
“Despite increase in number of vehicles, growing population, increased industrial activities and adverse meteorology, there has been a consistent improvement in air quality, resulting in a 38% reduction in PM10 and 30% in PM2.5 in Year 2020 w.r.t 2016 in Delhi,” the Centre pointed out.
Detailing steps undertaken by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to improve the situation, the Ministry said the Board is “regularly reviewing the air quality and meteorology scenario” and that the “the overall focused actions had made a positive impact on the air quality and in result improvement was noted in the year 2020 in comparison to the year 2016 with the number of ‘Good’, ‘Satisfactory’, and ‘Moderate’ days increasing to 227, against 108 in 2016, and number of ‘Poor’, ‘Very Poor’, and ‘Severe’ days decreasing to 139 against 246 in 2016”.
On the question of stubble burning, the affidavit pointed out that “whereas, in the year 2020, the total number of Active Fire Events in Punjab was 76,590, while in the year 2019, it was reported as 52,991, which indicates an increase of 44.5%…”
Haryana, however, reported 25 per cent reduction in incidents of fire in 2020 over 2019. “…in 2020, the total Active Fire Events reported in Haryana was 5,000 while in the year 2019, it was 6,652 which indicates a decrease of 25%,” it said.
The government added that “in view of the increase in the stubble burning incidents in…Punjab”, CPCB had asked the state “to analyse the reasons behind the same” and share with it “so that a useful and more constructive future strategy can be prepared”.
The affidavit also listed efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to prevent and control stubble burning.
It said that the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has implemented a special Central Sector Scheme, fully funded by Centre, “on Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation for in-situ management of crop residue” in these States for the period from 2018-19 to 2020-21. The Centre also apprised the court about the works of the newly constituted “Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas”.
After meetings with South MCD officials on the implementation of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, the Commission directed that with effect from January 1, 2021, commercial vehicles without a valid RFID tag should not be allowed to enter Delhi through the 13 toll plazas where the infrastructure for this has already been commissioned. It was also reiterated to stick to the stipulated targets of commissioning infrastructure at the balance 111 entry points.
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