Winter: Environment Ministry, States outline plans to stem pollution

A farmer burns the stubble in a rice field in Karnal, Haryana. File   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Union Environment Ministry convened a meeting on Thursday with representatives from Delhi and neighbouring States that see pollution levels soar during winter.

While the meteorological conditions exacerbate pollution, emissions from vehicles, thermal plants and the burning of rice chaff in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh ahead of the winter-sowing of wheat are key man-made reasons for the noxious winter that puts the capital city and several cities in these States on global lists of the places with the worst air.

Following the meeting, no new measures were announced and the focus appeared to be on strengthening existing programmes.

The Haryana government will be spending ₹200 crores to dissuade farmers from burning the rice stubble. Uttar Pradesh is deploying an organic chemical, a ‘decomposer,’ that will dissolve the collected straw and turn it into manure. Though small pilot projects were launched last year, the State this year will be deploying it in at least six lakh acres. The Haryana government’s target is one lakh acres, Punjab’s five lakh acres and 4,000 acres is the Delhi government’s.

Other measures, which are being reinforced this year, are mandating the use of bio-mass with 50% paddy straw as a supplement fuel in coal plants in the National Capital Region, and setting up a committee which will look at ways to repurpose the stubble as fodder for cattle in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The Commission for Air Quality Improvement in the NCR & adjoining areas, which became an executive body through an Act of Parliament in August, is frequently following up with these States to ensure that these plans are adhere to. “Clean air is in the interest of all States and these are issues beyond politics. In today’s meeting, all representatives are agreed on implementing plans that will aid the farmer and not vitiate the air, Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav told reporters.

Delhi switches over to Piped Natural Gas

The air quality commission on Wednesday had said Delhi had completely switched over to Piped Natural Gas (PNG)/cleaner fuels in 1,635 identified industries. In the NCR, Haryana has so far shifted 408 of the 1,469 identified industrial units. In U.P., 1,167 of the 2,273 units and 124 of the 436 industries in Rajasthan have been shifted to PNG.

All the identified 124 border entry points of Delhi were equipped with Radio Frequency Identification System to facilitate cashless toll/cess collection thus avoiding huge traffic congestions and resultant heavy air pollution at the border points.

Those who attended the meeting were Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal, Environment Ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and officials from Punjab and Ministries of Agriculture, Power, Animal Husbandry. Chairman of the Air Quality Commission MM Kutty was also present.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 4:17:03 PM |

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