Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Friday said Delhi’s air pollution situation was serious even as the stubble burning season in northwest India has ended. He said the Delhi government and other agencies in the National Capital Region (NCR) need to take notice of the situation and immediately initiate steps to address air pollution-related complaints.
“The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) 50 teams visit areas in Delhi-NCR every day. They give their observations and complaints on polluting activities to the relevant agencies. Still, some work gets done and some doesn’t,” the minister said.
“Delhi government and all other agencies should take notice… stubble burning happens for 60-62 days, but after that pollution level has to be controlled by NCR itself,” Javadekar said.
Following the minister’s remarks, the CPCB on Friday asked pollution control boards, municipal corporations and various other agencies of Delhi and NCR areas of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to intensify actions for controlling local emissions.
Calm winds and low temperatures, along with local and regional emissions, has turned Delhi-NCR’s air quality index (AQI) to very poor since November 30. Share of PM2.5 levels from stubble burning in Delhi’s air was 1% on Friday and has been below 7% since November 23.
P K Gupta, head of CPCB’s air quality management division, told agencies in the letter on Friday that the AQI is likely to stay in the ‘very poor’ category for the next few days owing to unfavourable meteorological conditions.
“Based on feedback received from 50 CPCB teams since October 15, major (local) sources of emissions are open dumping of garbage, construction and demolition activity, unpaved roads or pits, re-suspension of road dust,” Gupta said in the letter.
According to CPCB’s analysis and the number of complaints received on social media and the Sameer mobile application of the Board, construction and demolition activity, open dumping of garbage, road dust and industrial emissions need to be controlled in Delhi’s south, southwest, north, northwest and northeast districts.
In NCR, these activities need to be controlled in Jhajjar, Bhiwadi, Gurgaon north, Gautam Buddh Nagar and Noida, said Gupta in the letter.
A Delhi government official said several measures, including sprinkling of water on roads, mechanised sweeping, night patrolling and dust control at construction sites are being taken by municipal bodies and other agencies in the capital to reduce local emissions.
On November 20, CPCB chairman Shiv Das Meena had directed chief secretaries and various agencies of Delhi-NCR to immediately address air pollution complaints made by the public and 50 teams of the Board on the Sameer application and social media.
He had pointed out the low redressal of complaints in the letter. Out of 3,094 complaints lodged by citizens and inspection teams on the Sameer application between October 7 and November 18, 34% were solved. In the same period, 784 complaints were lodged on social media platforms of CPCB, out of which 24% were solved.
A Delhi Pollution Control Committee official said that as of Wednesday, its share of pending complaints on the application were zero and that the municipal corporations in Delhi had a high share of pending complaints.
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