New Delhi: The Environment Ministry on Wednesday acknowledged the high level of air pollution in the national capital and said that the plan to fight it was “not totally successful” and particulate matter (PM) levels were still high. Speaking at the launch of the theme song on air pollution ahead of the World Environment Day on June 5, C K Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) said PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels were high in Delhi despite the plan to fight air pollution being put in place for the last three years. But it was a time-taking process and cannot be resolved without the public’s contribution, he said. Mr. Mishra further said,
Delhi’s plan on air pollution is in place for the last three years. It is true that the plan is not totally successful. Still, PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels are high, vehicular pollution is there and we have not been able to promote public transport as much as we wanted to.
These obstacles are not inter-governmental but implementation issues, he told reporters at the ministry headquarters. He also said that the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was already in place with plans for 84 cities ready and the committee formed for it has already met and taken stock of the situation. He said,
We have taken stock of the situation and the technical committee has already evaluated the plans. We don’t really have annual targets. It is very difficult in issues like pollution to have annual targets.
The Union environment shared the dais with several other ministry officials and Bollywood celebrities — including singer Shaan, lyricist Swanand Kirkire and actors Shekhar Suman and Romanchak Arora — who contributed to the theme song. He said,
We have already launched NCAP, in which we are not only making a plan for the states, but for cities. We have to be very specific if pollution has to be reduced. This entire process of reduction in emissions is a very slow process. 102 non-attainment cities were identified under NCAP six months ago. Out of these, plan for 84 cities have been made, now implementation will start.
Mr. Mishra said that Beijing took about 10 years to tackle air pollution menace. He asserted,
If you remember, Beijing also faced air pollution problem and they invested much more than what we are doing right now, still they took 10 years to tackle the problem. So the issue is time taking and individual contribution is a must. Till the time we collectively work, we cannot resolve the problem of air pollution. In the ministry, we have this very strong tradition of creating partnerships. Whoever is willing to partner with us for a cause like this, we would be willing to extend our hand and support them.
Thanking Bollywood celebrities for joining the government in sending an awareness message on air pollution, he said,
Government messages work, but not that much. When Shaan and Shekhar Suman come and say something to people, it works much more.
He also said that India may not be hosting the World Environment Day this year but the scale will continue to be as intense and big as it was last year when it hosted it. “We need to continue working with the same intensity continuously to really solve the problem,” he said. When asked about 100-day agenda of the ministry, he said
Every day is a new day with a new plan as far as we are concerned. We cannot rest.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.