Environment minister Prakash Javadekar announced a slew of measures on Friday including closure of polluting industries, opening of the Western Expressway in 2016 and tamper-proof pollution checks for vehicles in Delhi to improve air quality in the Capital this winter.
A sustained campaign to highlight the toxic air in Delhi, the most polluted city in the world according to the WHO, pushed Javadekar to join hands with state governments in the national capital region (NCR) and draft an action plan for the area where pollution monitoring systems are sometimes inadequate.
As part of the action plan, the government will increase the number of air pollution monitoring stations in NCR towns and the new stations will also be put on the national air quality grid which already has 16 from Delhi, the highest for any city in the country. Only Faridabad in the NCR has an air pollution station on the national network run by the Central Pollution Control Board.
Javadekar said the Delhi government will introduce a tamper-proof pollution control check system in Delhi by the end of August. “The innovative new system is being tested that will prevent tampering with pollution under control (PUC) results,” he said.
The minister also said 57 polluting industries were being watched in Ghaziabad and 30 brick kilns and nine stone crushers had been closed in Rajasthan.
In Punjab, he said, bailer machines had been installed to reduce stubble burning, which causes high air pollution during winter months in the NCR.
“We have also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to replicate the Punjab model and provide subsidy for the machines,” Javadekar said.
The Haryana government says that by early 2016 the Western Expressway from Kundli to Palwar via Manesar will become operational. The Union Cabinet last week approved the Rs 7,558-crore Eastern Expressway via Uttar Pradesh --- the other half of the third ring road around Delhi --- to minimise inflow of trucks into the Capital. “The bids for the Eastern Expressway will soon be invited,” he said.
Javadekar also said that rising air pollution in Delhi had been an issue for the last eight years and the Centre along with state governments was trying to improve the city’s air quality for the first time. “If all agencies work with people, Delhi’s air quality can improve,” he said.