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Don’t panic, air quality improving: Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan

IANS | New Delhi |

As smog continued to envelop Delhi and NCR for the fifth day in row, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday urged the people not to panic stating that air quality has been improving over the last two days.

The Minister pointed out that for the first time this year a focussed approach has been adopted to deal with emergency-like situations through Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Several restrictions such as stopping truck movement and banning diesel generator sets are imposed under GRAP, depending on the severity of the air quality.

“Air quality has been improving over the last two day, people of Delhi need not panic,” the Minister said.

Particle pollution in the air in Delhi reached ‘severe-plus or emergency’ levels in Delhi and NCR with major pollutants calculated 35 times the safe-limits at certain spots on Saturday.

The Minister said that focused attention at the highest level has been ensured through committees headed by the Union Minister, Minister of State and Secretary.

“Crop residue and stubble burning have been under detailed discussions during all these meetings,” the Minister said, referring to the review meetings with concerned state governments and agencies.

Earlier, the Union Environment Ministry on Thursday formed a seven-member committee to work out short and long -term measures to fight air pollution. The committee is headed by Environment Secretary CK Mishra.

“GRAP must be earnestly and meticulously implemented by the concerned state governments, as well as municipal and civic organisations,” the Minister said.

Harsh Vardhan also underlined the augmenting of the number of monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR to enhance the quality of information system.

He said that as a part of advance planning and special intervention, 40 monitoring teams of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have been deployed since September 1, 2017 to give feedback on the ground situation and air polluting activities in Delhi.

“A systemic response mechanism was put in place for the last one year and regular alerts were conveyed to all stakeholders”, the Minister said.