Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate change Harsh Vardhan reiterated the seriousness of his government on cracking down on air pollution, and emphasised that the two-week 'Clean Air Campaign' will be followed by a sustained effort at cleaning the capital's air. The campaign will be launched on February 10 and will be on till February 23.
The minister said the air pollution was a serious economic and health issue and was impacting the national image. Two consecutive smoggy Novembers, which made international headlines, equated Delhi with Beijing. While Beijing head done much to clean its air, Delhi's efforts have been reactionary rather than proactive and preventive. For instance, the exercise to douse a section of the ITO area with water jets. Apart from a wastage of water and effort, the exercise did nothing to reduce the suspended particulate load marginally.
The politicking between various agencies—the pollution board, Centre, Delhi government and Haryana and Punjab governments—didn't help either.
Elaborating on the campaign, the minister said teams will fan out across the city to monitor the major sources of pollution, including penal action. "The stage has come where we have to have zero tolerance to polluters, '' the minister said.
Delhi generated 131 tonnes of dust daily. Construction is a major contributor. The Centre recently notified dust mitigation norms that include no building projects without a green clearance, black topping roads to construction sites, water sprinklers and 10m high wind breakers around the site.
The campaign will also focus on pollution control measures for vehicles.
Acknowledging poor compliance, the ministry appealed that the campaign become a public initiative too.
A control room at the Central pollution control board will monitor the progress.
The venue and Delhi governments have been slammed by the National Green Tribunal for failing to tackle Delhi's rising air pollution.
The Supreme Court recently lauded the proposed initiatives, specially the plans for stubble management in fields after the kharif harvest. Stubble burning worsens the poor air quality in November.
In the recent budget, the Centre had proposed a 50 per cent subsidy for farmers to purchase equipment like Happy Seeders and Rotavators for stubble management.