New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Asserting that the government means business about the problem of air pollution, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said the Centre and the Delhi government have joined hands and constituted 70 teams for creating mass awareness and testing all mitigation steps taken in the NCR from February 10.
The campaign outcome will help the Ministry to form a larger policy framework to apply throughout the year as permanent solutions to air pollution, he added.
The 70 teams will have officials from the Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, civic bodies, Delhi Police and NGOs.
The task, officials said, will focus on four constraints – dust mitigation, municipal solid waste, vehicular emission and industrial emissions.
“The main purpose is to use the tools with concentrated efforts to test everything that we had been doing. The results will be a part of the larger policy throughout the year,” Environment Secretary C.K. Mishra said.
Following the campaign, Vardhan said, a meeting of state Environment Ministers will be held to recognise individual environment and pollution related challenges in their respective states.
“Every day, about 131 tonnes of dust is generated in Delhi, mostly due to construction activities. Now, we don’t have certain natural factors like dust from Afghanistan under our control, but we surely control local factors and thus this campaign or exercise,” the Minister said.
Vardhan said the government meant business on the issue. “The Delhi government is with us on this one on record — Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal personally assured that they are with the Centre on pollution mitigation and the drive.”
Air pollution remain a serious threat to the National Capital Region, including Delhi, especially with back-to-back air crisis during the winter in 2016 and then again in 2017.
During November-December 2017 , Delhi and surrounding areas choked on “severe plus or emergency” levels of air quality with environment bodies imposing emergency-level restrictions on polluting activities like construction, industry and truck movement.
Schools across the NCR were shut for a few days in November.
“We will have to find a permanent solution of the air-pollution in national capital in next 15 days…,” the Minister said.
The Ministry will focus on workshops on air pollution and health, including a special workshop on indoor air pollution measures.
“Just after the campaign, we will begin working with other states and talk directly to Environment Minister concerned regarding state-specific pollution issues,” Vardhan added.
A 2017 report said that due to air pollution, the life expectancy of an average Indian is reduced by four years while this figure for Delhi residents is nine years.