- Projects worth Rs 40,000 crore to check pollution planned, said Mr Gadkari
- Ethanol extracted from paddy husks to be used as alternative fuel: Gadkari
- Budget speech highlighted air pollution in Delhi-NCR as a cause of concern
New Delhi: Backing up Finance Minister Aurn Jaitley’s concern on air pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) during the Budget 2018 speech, Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari has said that pollution and traffic congestion in the region will be halved by April 2018. Air pollution has been a matter of concern across north India since the onset of winter in 2017, and pollution levels across major north Indian cities soared to record-breaking high levels. Vehicular emission is one of the biggest contributor to poor air quality in Delhi.
Talking about the air quality in Delhi-NCR and the government’s efforts to provide a solution to the perpetual problem of poor air quality in the region to IANS, Mr Gadkari said that the government was working on projects worth Rs 40,000 crore to address the air quality issues. Mr Gadkari laid out the government’s plans to address air pollution, which included a threefold vision of reducing dependency on petrol/diesel, addressing stubble burning and job creation.
As per the Union government’s plan, instead of burning paddy husks, the government will use them to extract ethanol and supplement it with petrol across majority of the vehicles in Delhi-NCR. This will simultaneously address the problem of stubble burning, which has been identified as a leading cause of air pollution. Measures to tackle stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana have proved futile so far, as lack of resources to manage agricultural stubble in these states have left farmers with no option but to burn them at the onset of winter. The issue of stubble burning was also addressed at the Union Budget 2018 speech, where assistance was promised to Haryana and Punjab by the Centre to address the issue.
Mr Gadkari said that the government plans to set up industries that would buy paddy husks, extract ethanol out of them and make them usable as fuel in vehicles. Mr Gadkari said that along with curtailing air pollution, the move will create nearly 50 lakh jobs and lower the cost of importing petroleum. A tonne of paddy husk can yield up to 280 litres of ethanol, enough to fill the fuel tanks of seven cars. The Union Minister was confident that the efforts will help in putting forward a long-term solution to the problem of air pollution.
In June 2017, the number of private vehicles in Delhi crossed the one crore mark. Of these, more than 66 lakh were two wheelers, known to be notorious for their emissions and subsequent pollutions. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi often went beyond 500 between October December 2017. AQI safe levels hover between 0 to 50, and Delhi’s AQI levels indicate the amount of pollution present in the city’s air. To counter vehicular emissions and pollution, the Delhi government had introduced the odd-even scheme in 2016. If vehicular pollution is halved within the next two months in Delhi, the city’s air quality is expected to improve by at least 30 per cent, as estimated by the Central Pollution Control Board.
With inputs from IANS