Despite the air quality being in the ‘very poor’ category in Delhi, the Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar seems to believe that the air quality has improved in the last three years.
According to the sources, Javadekar tabled a report that claimed the national capital’s air quality has improved because the number of ‘good’ and ‘moderate’ days has increased over the years.
Replying to a discussion on the subject of air pollution and climate change, Javadekar said, “We need people’s support, a mass movement. When each one of us will contribute to end the problem and the government will take all along, I believe, if it took Beijing 15 years to fight (air) pollution, we will defeat the pollution in less time.” He was referring to air quality in the national capital. He also appealed to the public to plant at least seven trees to create an “oxygen bank”.
Further, he notified other parliamentarians about India’s increasing green cover, which has been made possible by planting 5 times more trees in Delhi/NCR. This, he believed, would balance the equation after a lot of trees were felled due to urbanization.
When questioned over the measures the government is taking to improve the AQI, he ensured everyone that round-the-clock monitoring was taking place. Other than that, the government has formed a task force on Delhi’s toxic smog and regular monitoring was being done at the Prime Minister’s office.
Javdekar also said that a ban has been put on the use of furnace oil and emission norms have been enhanced.
“In Delhi, reduction in PM 2.5 levels in 2018 is 7.3 per cent over 2017 and 14.8 per cent over 2016. In Delhi, reduction in PM10 levels in 2018 is 8.6 per cent over 2017 and 16.5 per cent over 2016,” the minister said in the report table in the Upper House of Parliament.
A comprehensive Air Plan for the national capital region has been developed identifying the timeline and a source-based approach has been adopted to control air pollution. The environment ministry also launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in January to tackle the problem of air pollution in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve 20 to 30 per cent reduction in PM 10 and PM 2.5 concentration. This would be achieved by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year.
Moreover, over the vehicular emissions, BS-VI emission norms would be applicable in the country from April 1, 2020, and this would lead to 80 per cent reduction in particulate matter emissions.
The government has also taken initiatives for stringent emission norms for coal-based thermal plants and has closed Badarpur Thermal power plant from October 15, 2018.
Javadekar expressed hope that India would lead the world in the field of climate change and get rid of pollution soon. He said that every year he invites street workers and people who clean roads to celebrate Diwali at his home. “They have told me that in comparison with previous years, only 20-30 per cent firecrackers were burst this year,” Javadekar said.