Health Minister Satyendar Jain Monday said air pollution had taken “centrestage” in the capital over the last year, and has been introduced in public debate and conversation. He added that the debate had changed perceptions about owning multiple cars in the same home.
“Now, people understand that owning more cars means adding to pollution, not a show of prosperity. People have started talking about air pollution over the past one year,” said Jain. He was speaking on the first day of the Delhi clean air forum, organised by the United Residents Joint Action of Delhi .
Jain said the odd-even scheme would be resumed only after considering the experiences of the two phases.
“We will take into account public opinion before announcing the next round,” said Jain, adding that the first Monday after the scheme saw heavily congested roads.
Jain also hit out at those who claimed pollution levels had increased during the scheme. “If diesel and pollution consumption has gone down by 30 per cent, how can pollution levels increase? It could be that pollution does not reduce but how can it increase? To ensure the failure of odd-even, some people say pollution has increased due to it,” said Jain.
He said the city government has undertaken a series of measures to curb pollution, both from vehicles and dust, which include marking of dedicated bus lanes and vacuum cleaning of roads. The minister said a proposal has been sent to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung for imposing a fine of Rs 2,000 on those who violate bus lanes. He said Jung has raised some objections to this, which will be addressed.
Jain, who is also the PWD minister, said the government was going to target roadside dust next. “But it will take two more months for the project to to commence in full capacity,” he said, adding that the PWD is planning to cover the soil around these roads with grass to reduce dust.
Jain said the government has also taken steps to curb pollution from power companies. “The Rajghat plant has already been shut. Of the five units of the Badarpur power plant, three have been shut. We have also written to the Uttar Pradesh government about the Dadri power plant,” said the minister.
Jain said the AAP government was willing to learn from its mistakes in tackling air pollution. “We are ready to face failure… and we don’t have any issue in learning,” said Jain.