Harsh Vardhan meets Kejriwal to discuss Delhi pollution, announces measures

The Union environment minister and the Delhi chief minister jointly expressed confidence that the issue would be tackled better next year.

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2017 21:34 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Union environment minister,Delhi Chief minister,Harsh Vardhan
Delhi and its surrounding areas experienced hazardous pollution levels for nearly two weeks in November.(Sonu Mehta/HT File)

Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday convened a high-level meeting with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and top officials from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to discuss high air pollution levels in the national capital.

Delhi and its surrounding areas experienced hazardous pollution levels for nearly two weeks in November, triggering a blame game between the Delhi government and the Union environment ministry. Kejriwal suggested that the Union minister did not respond to his calls for action.

However, at the meeting, both Harsh Vardhan and Kejriwal expressed confidence that the issue would be tackled better next year. “We have identified all sources of air pollution, and they will be better handled to mitigate Delhi’s problem,” the chief minister said, adding that his government was working closely with all agencies in this regard.

Central representatives at the meeting decided to alleviate dust pollution levels in Delhi through mechanised sweeping. The department of science and technology was also directed to find scientific solutions for the problem of garbage burning at waste dumps.

A task force committee headed by Nripendra Misra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, is looking at ways to prevent stubble-burning undertaken in states surrounding Delhi twice a year. This contributes to poor air quality in the national capital region, especially during the winter.

Officials decided to strictly enforce the recent ban on polluting fuels such as petcoke and furnace oil, imposed on the directions of the Supreme Court. Delhi Police will also be asked to try and decongest roads while the city administration ensures better availability of public transportation in the meantime.

Though officials said the air quality in Delhi this year was better as compared to 2016, particulate matter levels remained many times above permissible limits through November. The environment ministry will also organise a 15-day ‘anti-pollution drive’ in the region next month.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 21:29 IST