Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told the Lok Sabha on Friday that China’s capital took 15 years to improve its air quality but India will do the same in Delhi in much lesser time.
“It took Beijing 15 years (to fight air pollution). We will take lesser time,” said Mr. Javadekar while replying to a debate on air pollution and climate change, especially with reference to the national capital.
A mass movement is needed to curb pollution and arrest the adverse impact of climate change, he said.
Measures in Delhi
Round-the-clock monitoring, a ban on the use of furnace oil and stricter emission norms for industries have also been put in place in the Capital, he said. Noting that India’s green cover is increasing, the Minister claimed that five times the number of trees that were cut during the construction of Delhi Metro have been planted.
The Minister read out the Air Quality Index of Delhi and its surrounding areas that was in the ‘very poor’ category and compared it with places such as Coimbatore and Thiruvananthapuram where it was below 50.
“The solution to the problem will come only when we recognise the problem,” he said, claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the one who introduced AQI.
“Someone sent me some calculation and said we need about seven trees for the oxygen we breathe in our lifetime. If each one of us pledges to plant seven trees, an oxygen bank will automatically be created,” he said.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there has to be a concerted effort to deal with the problem and the Centre and the State governments should work together.
“We need a climate-smart economy... you should introduce climate literacy,” he said, alleging that the Environment and Forest Ministry under the NDA government seemed to be pro-business rather than pro-conservation.
The Congress leader also strongly pitched for the use of jute bags as packing material and as carry bags to replace plastic bags.
Earlier, during Question Hour, Mr. Javadekar informed that the government will convene a meeting of Environment Ministers of all States to discuss the problem of single-use plastic and solid waste management.
He said 25-30 tonnes of plastic waste is generated daily in the country and just two-thirds of it is collected. The rest not only litter roads, clog drains and beaches but also threaten aquatic life.
The Minister also informed that around 30 crore mobile phones become redundant every year and their safe disposal, including recycling, is an issue.
Apart from enlisting the various steps taken by the Central government on pollution and climate change, Mr. Javadekar set an ambitious target of meeting 40% of India’s total power needs through renewable energy sources before 2030.