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Experts laud Delhi 10-point 'winter action plan' to check pollution

Environment experts welcomed Delhi's 10-point action plan to tackle the air pollution in the capital, but stressed the need to adopt a holistic and long-term solution to improve air quality

New Delhi's India Gate monument stands shrouded in smog in 2019. (Bloomberg)

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Environment experts on Monday welcomed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's 10-point action plan to tackle the air pollution in the capital, but stressed the need to adopt a holistic and long-term solution to improve air quality.
Every winter, Delhi experiences a huge spike in air pollution due to stubble burning in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
To combat air pollution in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a 10-point "winter action plan" that focuses on dust control, using the Pusa bio-decomposer, installing smog towers and checking waste burning and vehicular emissions.
Avinash Chanchal, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India, said the air pollution crisis should not be seen as just seasonal and the action plan must be long-term.
"Although every winter, Delhi witness huge spike in air pollution levels due to meteorological changes and episodic events like stubble burning with other permanent contributors, including transport, waste, industry etc, we should not see this crisis as seasonal or just a winter crisis," he said, adding that air pollution is all year-round problem in Delhi.
The pollution levels are consistently above the national ambient air quality standards throughout the year, he said.
Chanchal appreciated the efforts of the Delhi government in tackling air pollution due to stubble burning, but said that solutions should address the root cause.
"It's good to see the Delhi government preparing for the winter's air pollution crisis but it should also adopt a holistic and long-term solution to improve the air quality. The plan needs to address the consistent major contributors like emissions from vehicular, power, industry, waste and other sectors which exist throughout the year.
"To tackle the stubble burning problem, it's good that the Delhi government is talking about giving solutions to the farmers rather than penalising them. But the solutions should address the root cause and be easily accessible to the farmers. Bio-composter is a good step but it's a short term solution," he said.
Lauding the city government for its action plan, V Vinoj, Assistant Professor, IIT Bhubaneswar, said it was a good step but action plans need to be regionally enforced.
"It's a good step from the government. However, air quality over Delhi is a result of a combination of local and regional emissions. It will be more effective if action plans are regionally enforced in sync with meteorological forecasts of short time scales," he said.
According to Tanushree Ganguly, Programme Lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), Delhi's urban poor should have access to alternatives to using biomass for their space heating requirements which can help in mitigating air pollution.
"In addition to the sources that the winter action plan tackles, the government should also ensure that Delhi's urban poor have access to alternatives to using biomass for their space heating requirements. One way could be through the creation of clean and warm night shelters.
"Further, given that Delhi now has a functional Decision Support System to pin point sources of pollution, the government should ensure that insights provided by it are used to plan and roll out actions in advance to prevent severe air quality levels in the city," she said.
Expressing confidence in the government's action plan, Namita Vikas, Founder and Managing Director of auctusESG LLP, a global expert advisory firm facilitating global sustainable development and climate transition, said such measures with low-cost technologies are imperative.
"India is emerging as a global hotspot for climate-related risks. To tackle these, each state needs to institute enabling policies towards large-scale climate mitigation that address the specific climate risks they face.
"In this context, Delhi's 10-point plan would help reduce the chronic air pollution that persists over the city, especially at the onset of winter. At the same time, such policies, strengthened with effective data monitoring, low-cost technologies and capacity building at the state and local-level is imperative," she said.
In his 10-point winter action plan, the Delhi CM urged the neighbouring states to retrofit thermal power plants in NCR areas with new technology and ensure the use of CNG-operated vehicles and cleaner fuel in industries in the region.
Kejriwal claimed that the Centre and neighbouring states have not done anything to check stubble burning, which will lead to a rise in air pollution in the winter season. He appealed to the governments of neighbouring states to work together to make the air clean.
He also urged the Centre and states to ensure free spraying of the bio-decomposer for in-situ management of crop residue, as his government has been doing in Delhi.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Oct 04 2021 | 7:46 PM IST

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