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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Pune among six cities to get funds for air quality improvement

Experts in Pune felt that the budget allocation for air quality may not be adequate given the scale of improvements needed.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: February 4, 2021 2:15:48 pm
Mumbai weather, Mumbai temperature, Mumbai IMD weather forecast, Mumbai air quality, indian express newsMaharashtra would approximately get Rs 790 crore for combating air pollution control. (File)

Pune is among the six cities with a million-plus population each that will receive the share of funds allocated for air pollution control, Dr V M Mothgare, Joint Director, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) told The Indian Express. Maharashtra would approximately get Rs 790 crore for combating air pollution control.

“Funds would be given to cities like Mumbai (Rs 232 crore) and others would get in the range of Rs 40 to 50 crore each,” Dr Mothgare said. He also warned that the phase-wise allocation of funds would be stopped if cities do not perform as per their respective air quality improvement programme. Apart from Mumbai and Pune, the other cities include Nagpur, Nashik and Aurangabad and Vasai-Virar, Mothgare said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union budget for 2020-21, had said that air pollution is a major concern and earmarked a sum of Rs 2,217 crore for tackling air pollution in 42 urban centres.

According to Mothgare, 50 per cent of the funds will be transferred to the state Urban Development Department. which will then give it to respective corporations.

“There is a grading system for each city for actions to be initiated for controlling vehicular emissions, biomass burning, controlling industrial air pollution and other criteria,” Mothgare said. Performance of these cities will be then graded as per the actions taken, he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Mothgare admitted that due to Covid-19 pandemic the funds to the tune of approximately Rs 40 crore, provided by the Ministry of Environment for NCAP implementation, for 18 non attainment cities in the state will be carried forward till March 31 this year. “The money was not utilised and MPCB will distribute the funds to the respective corporations of the 18 non attainment cities.(Non attainment cites are those with particulate matter concentration consistently below the national ambient standards) ,” Mothgare said.

Experts in Pune felt that the budget allocation for air quality may not be adequate given the scale of improvements needed.

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“Allocations should be linked to a clearer statement of actions and targets of improvement. The air quality improvement target is 30% reduction over pollutant levels in 2017. Much needs to be done to achieve this scale of improvement,” said Sanskriti Menon, Senior Programme Director of Centre for Environment Education.

“The largest contributor of PM2.5 in Pune is transport. Reducing tailpipe emissions from transportation is a key sector for Pune, including street design to reduce road dust, and improving facilities for walking, cycling and public transport. Bicycle Plan should be implemented to quickly create a city wide cycling network. Only with a proper network and safe facilities can we expect more people to cycle. But it appears that only 4 new cycle tracks of 10 km are budgeted this year,” she said.

“Ironically, Rs 150 crore are allocated for flyovers saying newly added areas need connectivity. This will be counterproductive as it will mostly help to increase private transport and soon result in congestion. This Rs 150 crore could have been allocated specifically to improve bus services to these areas,” Menon said.

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