Centre finalises action plan to tackle air pollution, SC says extend it to other states
The plan incorporates monitoring and oversight mechanisms to check implementation. The plan is based on a draft plan formulated by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).delhi Updated: Jan 25, 2018 23:19 IST
The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that it has finalised the comprehensive action plan to tackle pollution in Delhi-NCR which identifies bodies responsible for implementing an action, and laid down deadlines for each.
The plan incorporates monitoring and oversight mechanisms to check implementation. The plan is based on a draft plan formulated by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).
“We are happy with the plan,” said Sunita Narain, director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and member of EPCA, adding, “ but certain parts have still not been notified. We will ask the ministry to notify them soon.”
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been charged with issuing directions to stakeholders and to report on the compliance status to the ministry. The plan places the onus of implementing relevant measures on state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.
“We did a long and extensive consultation with all stakeholders, EPCA, the state governments and concerned ministries, and we have agreed on the timelines,” Ritesh Kumar, joint secretary, environment ministry, said. “We will have a meeting next month to resolve the outstanding issues.”
There are two points of disagreement: dieselisation and retrofitting older vehicles.
The plan will be a step forward from the Graded Action Plan that was notified by the ministry in January, 2017, under which different sets of provisions come into play depending on the air quality.
“The challenge is daunting as per the plan, Delhi will have to reduce particulate pollution by at least 74 percent to the meet the clean air standards. Such a target cannot be met merely with day-to-day emergency response and crisis management,” Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, CSE, said.
A senior official at the environment ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that there was not much difference between the comprehensive action plan and existing plans to tackle air pollution.
The graded action plan is seen by experts as a short-term solution and not a systematic one. It came into force in Delhi on October 2017, as Delhi-NCR experiences severe pollution episodes during winters. According to experts, when the air quality throughout the year remains poor, the comprehensive action plan can tackle the problem in a systematic manner, ensuring the city meets national air quality standards year-round.
The Supreme Court also asked the ministry to notify a nationwide plan for tackling pollution. A plan similar to the Delhi plan has not been notified for the country, but the ministry is working with state governments to formulate action plans for 91 non-attainment cities that consistently do not meet air quality standards.
SALIENT FEATURES OF COMPREHENSIVE ACTION PLAN
1) Air quality monitoring expansion:
UP: February 2018
Haryana: January 2018
2) Enforce Graded Action Plan: Enforced in 2017/ Ongoing
3) Satellite based monitoring of crop burning: Ongoing and to be done each year
4) Prepare air pollution inventory, do source apportionment, health impact studies and other appropriate studies: CPCB will give progress report every 3 months
5) Expansion of CNG programme across NCR: MOPNG will prepare plan by end of January 2018
6) Introduction of battery-operated vehicles in some segments of 2 and 3 wheelers: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) will submit a plan by February 2018
7) Auditing of PUC certification centres: MORTH has issued directions to state governments, expects compliance by January 31, 2018.
8) Link PUC with annual vehicle insurance: MORTH has issued directions, compliance report to be submitted to SC by December 10, 2018.
9) Fast track construction of Western and Eastern Peripheral Expressways: Both expressways will be open by April 2018.
10) Fuel quality: Develop action plan to check fuel adulteration and random monitoring of fuel quality: Action plan ready by February 28, 2018.
11) Increase bus numbers and improve service. Total fleet should be of atleast 10,000: Full compliance by Delhi government by December 2018.
12) Augment metro service: By December 2018
13) Parking policy finalisation: Implement by February 28, 2018
14) Permanent closure of Badarpur thermal power plant: By mid -2018.
15) Ban on furnance oil, petcoke in Delhi-NCR states: Done
16) Convert Brick kilns to Zig-Zag technology, only those brick kilns will be allowed to operate: By July 1, 2018
17) Only allow generator sets that meet standards to operate: Immediate
18) Complete ban on garbage burning in entire NCR region: Immediate
19) Ensure strict enforcement of ban on crop burning in Punjab and Haryana: Immediate
20) Control measures for road dust and construction dust: Immediate