The Union environment ministry on Thursday announced the launch of a 15-day Clean Air campaign in the Capital to tackle mounting air pollution. The results of this campaign will form a replicable model, which will be applied to the rest of the country, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan told the media.
“Clean Air Campaign not just a symbolic exercise, but a serious effort to drastically bring down pollution levels,” Vardhan said, emphasising there would be “zero tolerance” towards polluters. The campaign, to be conducted in Delhi on 10-23 February will send a strong message that pollution is a serious economic and health issue and is linked to our national image also, the minister said. Efforts to reduce pollution levels will not be restricted to these two weeks only, but taken throughout the year on a continuous basis, he added.
The decision to launch the campaign was taken by the Centre and Delhi government. Delhi government officials, led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, environment minister and chief secretary as well as members of Delhi Pollution Control Board, Municipal Corporations and Delhi Police met Union environment ministry officials to chalk out the campaign.
Seventy joint teams of officials have been constituted, Harsh Vardhan said, adding that these teams will fan out to every administrative division of Delhi, monitor causes of pollution and initiate remedial measures, including penal actions against serious polluters on the spot. A control room would be established in CPCB to coordinate with the 70 teams. It will monitor the daily progress, which will be shared with both the Union and state governments and suggest midway corrections, if required.
The minister spoke of commitment at the highest level to overcome the issue of air pollution, as reflected by the special provision of budgetary resources to tackle stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Delhi.
“The situation has reached a stage, where we cannot tolerate pollution any more and there has to be an emphasis on Zero Tolerance to Polluters,” he said. Monitoring of pollution will be done on four fronts ~ dust, municipal solid waste, vehicular emission and industrial emission. Resident welfare authorities (RWAs) and NGOs will also be involved to devise a replicable model, which will be taken up with state environment ministers at an upcoming conference and implement wherever replicable.
“The exercise is in Delhi to begin with to have a mechanism in place,”Harsh Vardhan explained. “Each state has its own variations. But we will have a structure to go by. This is a methodology that will be followed throughout the year.”
The minister also noted that Delhi generates 131 tonnes of dust every day, and controlling that itself would bring down air pollution drastically, as large-scale construction in Delhi-NCR is one of the major causes for increasing dust and pollution in the air. He added that he has been meeting teachers, students and representatives of civil society to spread awareness on the issue of environment protection and also launched a national campaign named Green Good Deeds recently.