Stopped by Centre, Arvind Kejriwal talks of anti-pollution measures at C40 Summit via video conference
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday addressed a climate summit in the Danish capital of Copenhagen through video conferencing after the Centre did not respond to a request for political clearance for the visit.
The Delhi chief minister highlighted the measures taken by his government to curb air pollution in the national capital, including the introduction of the odd-even vehicle rationing plan and shutting down thermal power plants in the city.
Kejriwal, who delivered his speech in Hindi, began his address by apologising for not being able to make it to the C40 World Mayors Summit.
“I wanted to be there, but couldn’t due to unavoidable circumstances. I offer my apologies for the same,” the chief minister said while video conferencing from his Delhi office.
Kejriwal, while stating that Delhi is now a signatory to the C40 clean air cities declaration, said over the last three years, his government has taken “systematic efforts” in the fields of mobility and infrastructure which has brought the city’s air pollution by around 25%.
“We have implemented many interesting measures in the city. One of them is the odd-even road space rationing arrangement. We put a lot of restrictions on the procurement as well as the operation of diesel vehicles in the city. We shut down all the thermal (coal-based) power plants in the city,” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi government will be rolling out the third edition of the odd-even plan from November 4-15.
He mentioned the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s plan to introduce 1000 electric buses in the next few months and also its plan to shift other vehicles into electric vehicles.
Talking about the industrial areas in Delhi, he said that the Delhi government initiated a subsidy scheme where industries are being incentivised for switching to cleaner fuels.
Kejriwal said this measure too has resulted in the reduction of pollution in the city.
“Earlier Delhi used to have a lot of power cuts. Over the past two years, we have ensured that the city gets an uninterrupted power supply because of which as many as 0.5 million diesel generator sets, which were used as a power-backup have become redundant,” he said.
He also talked about the tree plantation drives taken up by the city administration which he claimed has increased the free cover of Delhi.
“We also have the largest network of air quality monitoring stations in India which helps us in decision making. All these behavioural and policy changes were possible only because of the cooperation from the people of Delhi, who even allowed themselves to be subjected to harsh emergency measures to mitigate pollution,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister also said that in the coming days, the Delhi government is going to make a special task force (STF) to be chaired by him.
“The STF will have ministers, officials and even experts. It will monitor the implementation of the C40 declaration,” he said.
To control dust, Kejriwal said his government is taking up landscaping along the city’s road on a large scale, in addition to mechanised sweeping of roads. He concluded his speech by promising that Delhi’s air will improve further in the coming days.
Kejriwal was to lead an eight-member delegation for the summit scheduled from October 9-12. The Delhi chief minister was scheduled to leave on October 8 but was forced to cancel his trip after the Centre did not grant him the permission to attend the event.
The Centre on Wednesday had defended its decision, saying it was meant for “mayor-level” participants, and therefore not commensurate with the status of Delhi’s chief minister.
The AAP responded by dismissing the Centre’s explanation and contending that it was using the nomenclature at its “convenience” to “mislead people”.