A two-week-long intense exercise to address all sources of pollution in Delhi was launched on Saturday. The campaign will last from February 10 to February 23.
Both the Centre and the Government of Delhi have created 70 joint teams comprising of officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Government, DPCC, Municipal Corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation to monitor the causes of pollution and initiate remedial measures, including penal actions against serious polluters on the spot.
"It is not just a symbolic exercise, but a serious effort to drastically bring down pollution levels in the national capital. A strong message has to go down that pollution is a serious economic and health issue and it is linked to our national image too," said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Environment, Forest & Climate Change Minister, last week.
The minister said, Delhi generates 131 tonnes of dust every day, and controlling it itself would bring down air pollution drastically. Large-scale construction in Delhi-NCR is one of the major causes for increasing dust and pollution in the air.
The Centre had recently notified dust mitigation norms to contain dust pollution. This mandates -
(i)No building or infrastructure project requiring Environmental Clearance shall be implemented without approved Environmental Management Plan inclusive of dust mitigation measures;
(ii)Roads leading to or at construction sites must be paved and blacktopped (i.e. metallic roads);
(iii)No excavation of soil shall be carried out without adequate dust mitigation measures in place;
(iv)No loose soil or sand or Construction & Demolition Waste or any other construction material that causes dust shall be left uncovered,
(v)Wind-breaker of appropriate height i.e. 1/3rd of the building height and maximum up to 10 meters shall be provided;
(vi)Water sprinkling system shall be put in place; and (vii)
(vii)Dust mitigation measures shall be displayed prominently at the construction site for easy public viewing.
The campaign would also include enforcement of pollution-control measures for vehicles, driving discipline, inspection of power plants in Delhi to ensure, it complies with the norms on pollution, etc. Local area development plans to specifically address air pollution shall also be worked out and implemented.
Besides officials of Central and State governments, the drive will also enlist the involvement of Delhi Police, Educational Institutions, NGOs, industries, apex industrial bodies, Resident Welfare Associations, R&D Institutions, etc.
Besides field visits by empowered teams of officials, there would be a series of seminars during the period on mitigation of pollution. These include, workshop on Air Pollution and Health; Air Pollution Abatement Technologies;enlisting support from NGOs, Civil Society, Citizens; Clean Air Day in Universities, Colleges and Schools; a Mini Marathon for Clean Air;enhancing the role of PSUs and industries, apex industrial bodies;launching a national digital forum for discussions on air pollution; Indoor Air Pollution Management and finally a conference of Environment Ministers of States and Union Territories.
A control room will be set up in CPCB to monitor daily progress, which will be shared with both the Union and State governments, and suggest midway corrections, if required.
Dr Vardhan said, that efforts to reduce pollution levels will not be restricted to these two weeks only, but taken through the year on a continuous basis. He further said, there is commitment at the highest level in the country to overcome the issue of air pollution as reflected by special provision of budgetary resources to tackle stubble burning in states like Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
"The situation has reached a stage when we cannot tolerate causes of pollution any more - Zero Tolerance to Polluters," said the Minister, appealing to everyone to join this national effort. He also said Abatement of Air Pollution has to become a mass movement and Government shall take every possible step towards its success. Dr Vardhan sought the involvement of media to support the campaign and help in spreading awareness among the masses on the issue.
He added that he has been meeting teachers, students, civil society representatives and political activists to raise awareness on the issue of environment protection and also launched a national campaign named 'Green Good Deeds'.