Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday refused to take a stand on whether air pollution in Delhi was indeed causing 80 deaths every day as per his earlier submission to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In a press conference outside Parliament here, at the conclusion of a review meeting with National Capital Region States – Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana, he said the Union Environment Ministry had set itself yet another three-month deadline to tackle air pollution in the capital.
Mr. Javadekar said action plans will be formulated to tackle the four main focus areas — agriculture, construction waste, demolition waste and vehicular pollution. “Air quality monitoring stations will be installed in every state and by every concerned organisation,” he said. The earlier three-month deadline, set by the Ministry in April, to take proactive measures to tackle Delhi’s air pollution ended on July 22, prompting Friday’s review meeting.
Earlier this week, Mr. Javadekar had cited a study ‘Epidemiological Study on Effects of Air Pollution on Human Health in Delhi’ published in 2008, to state that 80 deaths take place in Delhi every day due to air pollution-induced illnesses. He also cited another study ‘Study on Ambient Air Quality, Respiratory Symptoms and Lung Function of Children in Delhi’ to support the claim in Parliament. However, on Friday, the Minister appeared non-committal on the matter and in a written submission to Lok Sabha said “no conclusive evidence exists that air pollution led to loss of lives of patients suffering from respiratory diseases.”
Environmental groups are unhappy with the Ministry’s measures to tackle the problem. In February this year, Greenpeace India conducted an air-quality monitoring survey inside five prominent schools across Delhi and found the PM2.5 levels (particulate matter) to be four times the Indian safety limits and 10 times that of the air quality safety standards set by the World Health Organisation.
Mr. Javadekar said that the detailed action plan on tackling air pollution will only be revealed on Monday.