New Delhi: With assembly elections round the corner, Delhi’s notorious pollution problem is now a poll issue with both BJP and AAP claiming credit for curbing air pollution in the city.
Listing a number of past and ongoing initiatives by the central government to reduce air pollution in Delhi, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Prakash Javadekar Monday took a dig at Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal for taking credit for the drop in pollution levels in Delhi.
“Taking false credit for anything will not save anything,” said Javadekar.
Every year, Delhi is engulfed by toxic smog during winter. While stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana have been identified as the major driver, other factors like firecrackers during Diwali, excessive vehicular and industrial pollution make matters worse.
A recent CSE report claimed that air pollution levels in the capital dropped by 25 per cent over the past three years.
“I have put the facts in front of you. Who has done what is automatically clear. Kisi kisi ka swabhav hota hai, kaam kare koi, topi pehne koi aur,” he said.
The CSE study, which used CPCB data, stated that Delhi still needs to reduce pollution levels by up to 65 per cent in order to meet clean air standards.
Javadekar put forth a long list of initiatives that the Modi government had undertaken, with some dating back to 2015. He said Delhi’s problem of air pollution was acknowledged by the central government back in 2015, following which PM Narendra Modi had launched the Air Quality Index monitoring network.
“The problem of pollution began in 2005-06 and no one was talking about it until 2014 when Modi government recognised the problem and undertook the challenge to address it,” he said.
Out of 273 days until 30 September this year, the number of ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘moderate’ days were 165 against 104 in 2016, and the number of ‘poor’, ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ days had reduced to 108 against the 159 days in 2018, Javadekar said.
He also mentioned that the opening of the Eastern and Western peripheral expressway diverted 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles that were not destined for Delhi thus reducing pollution.
The Motor Vehicles Act 2019, measures to reduce stubble burning, introduction of the BS VI fuel and vehicle norms, incentivisation of e-vehicles and augmentation of the Delhi Metro network has helped in reducing air pollution in the city, he claimed.
“The central government has invested thousands of crores to start tackling the problem of air pollution and will continue to do so until people are living pollution-free lives,” Javadekar said.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had last month claimed that four major action policies taken by his government were responsible for the dip in pollution levels.
The AAP government in 2016 had initiated the trial runs of the odd-even policy in Delhi as a quick, short-term solution to vehicular pollution. The initiative is set to make a comeback this November.
Kejriwal also said the use of diesel-based power generators have been stopped, thus reducing pollution. The chief minister had claimed that the opening of the Eastern and Western peripheral expressways reduced the entry of trucks in Delhi by 30 per cent, further reducing pollution levels in the city
He said his government’s effort to increase the forest cover and closure of thermal power stations in Rajghat and Badarpur had brought down pollution levels significantly.