As her visit to India coincided with one of the worst spells of air pollution in Delhi/NCR, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday pledged to invest 1 billion euros over the next five years on environmentally-friendly urban mobility in the country.
She also emphasised on the need to replace diesel-run public transport with electric vehicles.
“We have agreed to co-operate on climate protection and green urban mobility and have earmarked 1 billion euros towards this,” Merkel said at a business event in Delhi.
Expressing concern at the alarming pollution levels in the national capital, Merkel said that whoever has looked at pollution in Delhi yesterday would find very good arguments to replacing diesel buses with electric buses, according to an ANI report.
Germany will also earmark 200 million euros to reform bus sector in Tamil Nadu.
Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the season on Friday as the pollution level touched the ‘severe plus’ category, prompting the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority to shut schools and ban all construction activity till November 5 and declare a “public health emergency”.
The Supreme Court-appointed panel declared a public health emergency after air quality in the NCR region dipped to 410 on October 31. AQI of 400 is deemed as “severe” and Delhi’s AQI has been in the severe category for five consecutive days post-Diwali.
The pollution control body further asked the states of Punjab and Haryana to take immediate stringent actions to curb stubble burning. It also called for a strict check on biomass burning in Delhi-NCR region.
Meanwhile, on Friday, India and Germany agreed to deepen efforts to resume stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU).
Merkel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the Fifth Intergovernmental Consultations at Hyderabad House after which the two sides inked over 20 agreements.
The two leaders also held a “restricted meeting” in the presence of select ministers and officials from both sides. The Indian delegation included External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.