Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday released a 10-point winter action plan to combat air pollution in the national Capital. The city’s air quality typically deteriorates during every winter.
Addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said that Delhi’s pollution levels were under control till now this year.
“But since the central and neighbouring state governments have not done much to help farmers, Delhi’s air quality will start deteriorating in a few days because of stubble burning,” he added.
Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn the residue of their paddy harvest during this season since it is a cost-effective and time-saving measure to prepare the fields for sowing of the other crops like wheat. However, the practice results in increased levels of air pollution in large areas of North India.
Lower temperatures, wind speeds and other factors such as industrial pollution also add to the problem. Often the Air Quality Index drops further around Diwali, when firecrackers are burst.
Kejriwal said he has requested the central government and the neighbouring states to take steps to stop stubble burning.
“Instead of playing the blame-counter blame game, we have found a solution to stubble burning,” said the chief minister. “We have requested the central government to take into consideration our request and hope this alternate plan will be implemented.”
Last month, Kejriwal had urged the Centre to ask the neighbouring states to use a bio-decomposer developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute to avoid stubble burning in agricultural fields.
The bio-decomposer is a solution containing seven fungal species and was created by scientists of the institute located in Delhi’s Pusa area.
Here are the 10 steps Kejriwal listed on Monday:
- Stubble burning: Kejriwal said that spraying the bio-decomposer on the crop residue will eliminate the need to burn them. “Delhi government has been spraying it for free, Punjab and other states too can do the same,” he said.
- Anti-dust campaign: The Delhi chief minister said the Aam Aadmi Party government will has formed 75 teams to inspect construction sites as part of its anti-dust campaign. “[The teams] will survey the entire national Capital and impose heavy penalty on those who are found violating the government’s dust pollution norms,” he added.
- Ban on firecrackers: The chief minister has announced a complete ban on the storage, sale and use of all firecrackers during the Diwali festival. In September, he had asked traders to not store any firecrackers as they had suffered losses last year.
- Smog towers: The AAP government has set up two giant smog towers. “These towers have shown good so far and they will continue to analyse results before taking a call to install more such structures,” Kejriwal said on Monday. However, a scientific paper in international peer-reviewed open access journal Atmosphere had stated that smog towers do not work for cleaning outdoor air.
- Vehicular pollution: Steps are being taken to minimise traffic jams to reduce the emissions caused by cars and other vehicles, said Kejriwal. He added that the Delhi government has identified 64 traffic congestion points in the city. “We have also intensified checking for Pollution Under Control [PUC] certificates and are cracking down on diesel vehicles older than 10 years,” he added.
- Burning of garbage: Kejriwal said his government has set up 250 teams to stop the burning of garbage.
- Pollution hotspots: Special teams have been formed to monitor pollution hotspots across the city, Kejriwal said.
- Green war rooms: Kejriwal said that the Delhi government has hired 50 environment engineers to strengthen the fight against air pollution.
- Green Delhi app: Kejriwal said the government monitors the mobile app constantly. The app was launched last year so that citizens can lodge complaints related to pollution. “Public is also encouraged to use it and lodge complaints of any violation,” Kejriwal added.
- Eco waste park: The Delhi chief minister said his government was building the first eco waste park in the country. Twenty acres of land has been allotted for the project, he added.
Delhi has been ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world by various bodies.
In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 – particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres – in a cubic meter of air was 84.1, a study said, making it the 10th most polluted city in the world.