Saying that measures undertaken by the BJP-led central government had improved Delhi’s air quality, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar Monday listed a slew of measures — from a robust air quality monitoring network to steps for curbing crop stubble burning — that had helped accomplish this.
“While pollution has been plaguing Delhi for years now, it is the BJP government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who accepted the alarming air pollution levels in the city and decided to take measures to counter it… In 2015, the PM decided to launch a monitoring machine and measure air quality index, and now we can track the quality of air minute by minute. Because of focussed action, air quality in NCR has improved. As a result of this, in 2018 we have had 159 ‘good’ air quality days as opposed to 108 ‘good’ days in 2016. The number of ‘bad’ air quality days has also come down, from 246 in 2016 to 206 in 2018,” said Javadekar.
The minister further said that of the 273 days till September 30 this year, there have been 165 ‘good’ days and 108 ‘bad’ days. CPCB officials further pointed out that there has been a 14.8% reduction of PM 2.5 from 2016 to 2018, and a 16.5% reduction in PM 10.
Javadekar’s statements come against the backdrop of a concerted push by the AAP government to highlight better air quality in the capital, and to link it to improved power supply, which has brought down the need for diesel generator sets.
Javadekar said there are 113 air quality monitoring stations in the capital, and “we will be adding another 29 stations this year”.
“A challenge that we face every year is of stubble burning in Haryana and Punjab. Last year, we launched a scheme under which Rs 1,150 crore funds have been given to state governments to subsidise machinery for farmers, which eliminates crop residue without burning. According to the Ministry of Agriculture figures, this has resulted in a reduction of 41% of burning events in these states since 2016,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has often highlighted the need for neighbouring states to do more to curb stubble burning, considered a major contributor to winter pollution in the capital.
Javadekar also spoke about introducing BS-IV fuel and vehicle-emission norms across the country from April 2017. “Very soon BS-VI vehicles will also be available… This measure alone will ensure a 50% reduction in particulate matter emissions and 88.5% reduction in nitrogen oxide,” he said.
Javadekar also credited Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari for completing the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways. “As many as 40,000 trucks that were not headed to Delhi but would transit through, have been diverted because of these bypasses. With the recent amendment in the Motor Vehicles Act and the increase in the fine from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 for not having PUC certificates, compliance has increased,” he said.
Javadekar added that 500 CNG stations have been set up during the BJP government’s previous tenure, and the Delhi Metro has taken 4 lakh vehicles off Delhi’s roads. He also commended the Centre for providing subsidies for e-vehicles and increasing the number of electric buses in Delhi.