“Clean Air for Delhi campaign to be developed into a peoples’ movement across the country”: Dr. Harsh Vardhan
Challans Issued in Forty Per Cent Cases of Violations, Clean Air for Delhi Campaign Concludes
Strongly emphasizing that continuous efforts will be made to develop the Clean Air for Delhi Campaign into a peoples’ movement across the country, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said that this Campaign will be replicated in about 100 non-attainment cities. Addressing mediapersons on Clean Air for Delhi Campaign that concluded here today, Dr. Harsh Vardhan pointed out that air quality in 2018 was better in comparison to 2016 and 2017.
The Minister stated that on the opening day of the Campaign on February 10, which was a Saturday, the level of air quality was in the Very Poor category. “The air quality never went back to Very Poor category after February 12”, he said. Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that comparative data for the months of February and March in the years 2016, 2017 & 2018 will be collated to ensure that the campaign is moving in the right direction.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan interacting with mediapersons on the conclusion of Clean Air for Delhi Campaign
The Minister reiterated that efforts were made during the Campaign to raise the levels of public awareness through radio and other communication tools. Dr. Harsh Vardhan referred to the positive messages imparted by school children, who were an integral part of the process to spread awareness. Providing a statistical overview of some of the cases of violation (see table given below), Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that in all, out of 7, 357 cases of violation, Challans worth Rs. 8 crore 85 lakh were issued in 3, 117 cases, that is in nearly 40 per cent of the cases of violations. However, the Minister underlined that issuing Challans is a process of raising awareness levels and enhancing education. “It was observed that all the trucks carrying construction material were fully covered”, he added.
STATISTICAL OVERVIEW OF CASES OF VIOLATIONS
|Nature of violation||No of violations||No of Challans Issued|
|Construction & demolition activity||3, 742||2, 051|
|Total||7, 357||3, 117|
Outlining the two major objectives of the Campaign launched on February 10 in Delhi, the Minister stated that these included – implementation of existing measures to control polluting activities in the city and finding new solutions through workshops on major issues contributing to air pollution in Delhi. Appreciating various good suggestions received at a meeting that preceded the Minister’s interaction with media, Dr. Harsh Vardhan made specific reference to two suggestions – (i) A public health expert may also be included in future in the team and (ii) Do’s and don’ts to be distributed to the place from where construction material is supplied. He added that all the 70 teams have been asked to pen down their experiences and offer more suggestions and the experiences of the teams will be compiled in the form of a booklet. “We want to take the Campaign from a modest beginning towards perfection in implementation and addressing various issues related to pollution”, Dr. Harsh Vardhan averred. Dr. Harsh Vardhan referred to the synergy created at both at the level of the Centre and the States during the Clean Air Campaign. He also made a special reference to a mid-term review of the Clean Air for Delhi Campaign carried out by Secretary, MoEF&CC and Chief Secretary, Delhi government.
CLEAN AIR FOR DELHI CAMPAIGN: A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Among the activities undertaken as a part of the Campaign included:
- 66 teams with a mix of officials from different departments were deployed on field to assess any air polluting activity and act on the spot through challans, notices and actions like water sprinkling to combat road dust and open burning.
- Teams conducted mass awareness amongst residents through interactive programmes in several schools, villages and industrial areas.
- Wide range of consultations with major stakeholders on vehicular pollution, traffic management, impact on environment and health and new air pollution mitigation technologies. The campaign included interaction and knowledge sharing among non-government organizations (NGOs), civil society citizens, academic and R&D institutions.
- To generate awareness in public regarding green social responsibility various methods such as newspaper, radio, social media, activities for children were used to disseminate information. Sameer App of CPCB was publicized as a tool for public to report environmentally polluting activities.
- The air quality index was contained at poor due to the activities on field by the teams even during marginally less favorable conditions in the next week. Comparative AQI values from Feb 10 – 22 showed a lower value of 237, compared to 267 in 2017 and 288 in 2016.
- Noticeable reduction in levels of pollution, particularly in comparison to the level on the same day in 2017. Number of ‘moderate’ days of air quality reported during Feb 10-22 was one in 2016 and zero in 2017. However, 4 moderate days were reported in 2018. Also, during the same period, 7 ‘Poor’ days were reported in 2018, in comparison to 13 days in 2017.
- Interdisciplinary teams with officials from various concerned departments have facilitated in acquainting the officials of their roles and responsibilities.
- Sensitization of regulatory officials regarding empowerment under provision of law for enforcement measures that can be taken against polluting activities like C&D waste and dust, open waste burning, visibly polluting and old vehicles.
- Reporting of violations has led to a significant removal of waste from public places and surface cleansing of streets to control road dust through sweeping and water sprinkling.
- Proper mitigation measures for C&D material storage and transport was ensured through challans issued to violators including DMRC, PWD, DDA, TPDDL, etc. It was observed that all the trucks carrying construction material were fully covered.
- Mass awareness with school children and local residents was done successfully in many areas.
- The teams will carry out periodical inspections of their areas.
- The teams can work as quick response teams (QRT) during emergency situations for their respective areas as they are well aware of the onsite polluting activities.
- Awareness at various levels (schools, colleges, RWAs, industries, public authorities, local communities, etc.) regarding impact of air pollution on health including sensitization of the contractors undertaking big construction projects/ regular construction activities about the environmental norms and dust control measures, safety norms for laborers working on such sites, regular review of such activities and appropriate action against violations of the norms.
- DPCC, industries and Department of Urban Development may collaborate to control polluting industrial activities.
- The gaps in regulation and enforcement may be addressed through feedback from the teams.
- Recommendations from the workshops conducted during the campaign may be utilized to devise a multi-phase plan to be executed within stringent timelines.