- The Environment Ministry said that air pollution is being tackled seriously
- India’s PM 2.5 and 10 levels decreased in 2017: Environment Ministry
- 61 Indian cities have submitted action plans to tackle air pollution
New Delhi: The air pollution crisis in India and its extent got reiterated in the latest data from the World Health Organization that listed 14 Indian cities, including national capital Delhi, among the Top 20 of the world’s most polluted cities with respect to particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration. 13 Indian cities also featured in the list of 20 of the world’s most polluted with PM 10 concentration. The data also showed how air pollution has worsened over the years in India, as compared to 2015 when 6 cities featured in the list of world’s most polluted cities, the number climbed up to 14 in 2016. The Ministry of Environment in a statement said that the Centre has made serious efforts to fight air pollution.
In a statement released to PTI, the Environment Ministry said despite adding over one million vehicles every year on the roads of Delhi and increase in construction activities, the air quality in the capital was improving. Overall air quality in India is also expected to improve in 2018 with active participation of urban local bodies (ULBs) from all over the country.
With similar intervention in other polluted cities and active participation of ULBs (urban local bodies) and state governments, air quality is expected to improve further, the Environment Ministry said in its statement to PTI.
Talking about the steps taken to curb air pollution, the Environment Ministry said that upgradation to BS VI fuel from BS IV is a major step, which is expected to reduce air pollution further in the capital. BS VI fuel is expected to be available in the National Capital Region (NCR) from April 2019. In 12 other metropolitan cities, the fuel is expected to be available by April 2020. The Environment Ministry said that the national annual average concentration of PM 2.5 in 2017 was 125 micrograms per cubic metre, compared to 134 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016. For PM 10, the national annual average came down to 268 micrograms per cubic metre in 2017, compared to 289 micrograms per cubic metre in 2016. The Ministry further stated that an action plan with 42 points was formed in July 2016 and 94 cities with severe air pollution were asked to prepare their own action plans to tackle air pollution. 61 cities across India have submitted their action plans to the Ministry.
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain wrote to Union Minister for Environment Dr Harsh Vardhan on the WHO data. The Delhi Environment Minister urged Dr Harsh Vardhan to convene a meeting of environmental ministers of all the NCR states to discuss the WHO data and issues related to air pollution. Mr Hussain also urged Dr Harsh Vardhan that the Delhi government and Central government must join hands together to tackle the air quality crisis in the capital. In February 2018, the Union Ministry of Environment and the Delhi government together launched the 10-day ‘Clean Air for Delhi’ programme to resolve Delhi’s air pollution problems. The Delhi Environment Minister also stated that the involvement of multiple agencies like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the departments of Public Works, and Transport is further aggravating the air pollution situation in Delhi.
Delhi Environment Minister @ImranHussaain writes to Union Minister Harshvardhan to convene a meeting with all the stakeholders in NCR regarding pollution, biomass burning & other issues. pic.twitter.com/UJx4MYNxBx
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) May 2, 2018
In response to the WHO data, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel organised an anti-pollution cycle rally. The objective of the rally was to unite people in their fight against air pollution and make it a people’s movement, said the minister. The rally was also attended by Dr Satya Pal Singh, Minister of State for Human Resources Development.
Glimpses from the Anti-Pollution Cycle Rally to create awareness on environment conservation and to combat the menace of #AirPollution in #Delhi. I invite all Delhiites to join me in order to put pressure on the incompetent #Kejriwal led #Delhi govt. to take long-term measures. pic.twitter.com/04DkfN58rb
— Vijay Goel (@VijayGoelBJP) May 3, 2018
The WHO data from 2016 comes at a time when air pollution has translated into a national crisis across India. The recent launch of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) worth Rs 637 crore is expected to strengthen data gathering mechanisms on air pollution in India so that region specific causes of air pollution can be identified and worked upon.