A Delhi-centric approach is inadequate to rid the city of air pollution, a group of activists today said and called for collective action for strict implementation of emission norms. Participating in a panel discussion on pollution, they expressed concerns over emission of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and rued the "absence" of any mechanism to punish the polluting units. "Delhi-centric approach is not going to help because you need to clean the air in surrounding areas as the city cannot be an island," Ritwick Dutta representing Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment said. Referring to a study conducted by IIT Kanpur, Greenpeace India representative Nandikesh Sivalingam said the report held emissions of power plants of 18,000 MW capacity within 300 km of Delhi responsible for air polluting in the city. The activists also cited RTI replies by 17 thermal power plants across the country to highlight lack of adequate measures to check SO2 and NO2 emissions. "Even as the deadline for implementing new emission standards for thermal power plants notified by the Environment Ministry has ended, none of the 17 plants had provided for Flue Gas Desulphurisation to check SO2 emission and modify burner designs for low emissions of nitrogen oxide," Sivalingam said. New emission norms for thermal power plants concerning particulate matter, SO2, oxides of nitrogen, mercury and water consumption, notified on December 7, 2015, have come into force from today. "There is no mechanism to punish the violators who flout emission norms.
The polluting units seem to have been given a long rope and and as far as implementation of steps to curb emissions are concerned, the agencies seem to be ready to wait till the end," Dutta said. Indian Medical Association (IMA) president K K Agarwal explained the harmful effects of particulate matter on health and called for a "public movement" to deal with the situation. "IMA has asked its members for a nationwide campaign against air pollution," he said.
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