On Thursday, the Prime Minister Office’s sent an ‘Air Pollution Abatement Action Plan’ to BN Singh, District Magistrate (DM) of Gautam Budh Nagar. The Prime Minister has also appointed BN Singh as the nodal officer for the action plan. On the seventh of every month, the DM will compile his reports and send to the Prime Minister’s office.
Last autumn, air pollution in Delhi-NCR had spiralled to the severe category. Therefore NGT has ordered all civic bodies to take suitable action to curb pollution levels in their respective jurisdictions. Responding to the seriousness of the issue, the ministry of environment, forest, water and climate change created this twelve point ‘Air Pollution Abatement Action Plan’ and sent it to the Prime Minister’s office for approval and subsequent implementation. Now the Prime Minister’s office is sending this plan to all the authorities in Delhi-NCR.
BN Singh, told City Spidey that he will ensure a strict implementation of this plan in the entire district. “JP Mourya, an officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) shall provide me all data related to air pollution in Noida on a weekly basis. Similarly for Greater Noida, Utsav Sharma, another officer of UPPCB will be my source. I shall combine both the reports and send it to the PMO on the seventh of every month,” Singh said.
Singh also added that this action plan has been sent to all the three authorities (Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Authority) for implementation.
Here are the twelve areas that the plan addresses:
1. Monitoring of crop stubble burning and interstate coordination:
The chief secretary of UP, Punjab and Haryana have to enforce measures to prevent crop stubble burning. They also need to collaborate between them and with the department of science and technology to ensure that independent data on crop stubble burning is available in real time.
2. Pollution monitoring and source attribution:
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has to collaborate with all the nodal officers of NCR (who are in-charge of implementing/supervising this plan) to maintain a proper network of air quality monitoring stations. Anti-pollution help lines have to be set up in all districts of NCR to register complaints of specific violations. A pollution app should also be prepared wherein citizens can take a picture of violations and upload these for quick remedial action.
3. Reducing pollution from power plants and industries:
Strict action should be taken regarding brick kilns operating in NCR without environmental clearances. Brick-kilns should migrate to zig-zag technology (a technology through which bricks are arranged in a manner where hot air can travel in a zigzag path. This reduces coal consumption to about 20%).
4. Solid waste management:
Another mandate of the ‘Air Pollution Abatement Action Plan’ is increasing decentralized processing of bio-degradable waste and diminishing the gap between waste collected and processed. The plan states that an independent verification mechanism should be set up to check whether 100% solid waste is actually being collected-- with specific focus on poor communities such as slums.
5. Managing sanitary landfills:
Steps must be taken to ensure that there are no fires at sanitary landfills. Municipal bodies must have special expertise to douse landfill fires.
6. Construction and demolition (C&D) waste:
Large construction agencies like NBCC and CPWD that are working in the NCR should set up their own facilities for processing construction and demolition waste and reuse the products in their own projects.
7. Mechanized road sweeping and managing road dust:
Currently about 15% of road sweeping in Delhi is mechanized. This should increase to at least 40% within the next four months.
8. Improving public transport:
Additional public transport (buses) need to be procured to improve the last mile connectivity. There should be adequate check-posts to stop trucks from using the NCR as a bypass route.
9. Environmental clearances:
Real estate developers should have environmental clearances before embarking on construction activity, particularly when mega commercial and residential projects are concerned.
10. Increasing green cover:
The green cover beside all roads of NCR to be increased by planting saplings.
11. Encouraging electric vehicles and promoting shared transport:
Transport policies of states should encourage electric vehicles and promote shared transport.
12. Reducing traffic congestion and removing encroachment from roads:
Lastly the plan reiterates the necessity of reducing traffic congestion and removing encroachments from roads.