[ecis2016.org] Environment minister Harsh Vardhan has said that the centre was taking steps, to reduce vehicle emissions and to promote green mobility and called for a mass movement involving people, to reduce pollution levels
Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan, on December 28, 2017, said that the centre was taking steps to reduce vehicle emissions and promote green mobility and attacked the Delhi government, for not taking steps to deal with the rising air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR). Vardhan said the union government was doing its best to reduce pollution levels but there was a need to create a mass movement, involving people from all walks of life, including the youth.
“The government of India is doing its best regarding the matter,” he said, replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the air pollution situation. Pollution levels did not touch the severe category on 214 days this year, compared to 181 days in 2016, due to the proactive steps taken by the central government, he said. “There are certain critical issues like water sprinkling to curtail air pollution. Likewise, landfill sites are not being maintained properly,” Vardhan said, criticising Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government. He said the Delhi government was not following guidelines, to manage solid waste and dust mitigation.
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Earlier, participating in the debate, Rajiv Shukla of the Congress said heavy vehicles should be taxed more, in order to discourage people from buying such models. “The money generated through such measures should be diverted into strengthening public transport,” he said. Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members sought concerted efforts by the government, to deal with rising pollution levels in Delhi and its adjoining areas.
The members also asked the government to refrain from putting the blame on farmers, for causing pollution by burning stubble or husk after harvest. SP leader Naresh Agarwal said, “Farmers are blamed for causing pollution by burning stubble/husk. The government should take steps to deal with the situation, rather than blaming farmers, because vehicle/industrial emissions and others are also the reasons for it.”
Referring to the 12-point charter unveiled by the government to deal with the issue, Agarwal said that pollution will not come down, just because the government would give directions to states or departments. He expressed unhappiness over the non-spending of Rs 800 crores of cess, collected in the name of environment, by the Delhi government.
TS Reddy (Congress) also expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s 12-point charter to deal with the issue. He drew attention towards solid waste management, saying garbage was being dumped in an improper manner. Referring to the government’s plan to use electric cars for officials, he said there was a need for an electric public transport system, including buses and metro rail, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. He was also of the view that the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, should take steps to deal with stubble burning after harvest.
CP Narayanan (CPI-M) pointed out that the people of Delhi were suffering from pollution, due to the lack of coordination between the centre, state governments and the local government and called for educating people on waste management. Veer Singh (BSP) suggested that industrial units should be shifted from the national capital and action should be taken against big farmers, for burning crop residues.
D Raja of the CPI said air pollution was a health issue and was not limited to Delhi alone and suggested that public transport should be encouraged and massive efforts should be taken, to shift towards cleaner fuel. Kanimozhi (DMK) said the pollution problem was not only in Delhi but also in other cities of the country. Many cities of Tamil Nadu were facing a similar situation, because of industrial pollution, she said, adding that emission norms should be adhered to. The DMK member also said that farmers should be given alternate choice, so that they stop burning crop residue.
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