Asked by Union Minister Prakash Javadekar to check air pollution in the national capital, Delhi government today said that combating the environmental menace should be a priority for all concerned and must not become a subject of political wrangling.
In a letter to Javadekar a day after the Union minister exhorted the Delhi government to act against air pollution, Delhi's environment minister Asim Ahmed Khan said that an action plan to improve air quality was sent to the Union Ministry in the month of February.
The action plan was based on the recommendations of a high-powered committee headed by the city's then chief secretary, Khan said.
"This action plan was limited to the areas in which Delhi government can check the rise of air pollution. It specifically focused on short-term and long-term measures to control air pollution in the national capital," Khan wrote to the Centre.
He further told Javadekar that in a follow-up to that, the departments concerned, including DDA, MCD, NDMC, Delhi Police, etc., have been requested to prepare time-bound implementation plans. The departments concerned are working on the action points identified for them, Khan added.
Javadekar had yesterday said Delhi government had assured his ministry that it would submit an action plan till March 31, but added that it has not received any plans so far.
"It is pertinent to mention that air pollution does not recognise geographical boundaries. At any point, air pollution is caused by several sources, even from long distances.
"Since the NCR is a contiguous area with high-population density and multiple pollutant sources, it is difficult to pinpoint and isolate the source of pollution in Delhi alone," Khan said.
According to Delhi government, crop residue burning also contributes to high levels of pollution in Delhi. There are reports about scientific studies which indicate that Delhi is receiving pollution from neighbouring towns and industries present in NCR.
Khan requested the Union minister to convene a meeting of various stakeholders in Delhi-NCR, saying, "Several towns of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh fall within NCR... May I request you to ask them to set-up joint check posts well within their territories to ensure that overloaded vehicles can be checked and turned back before they enter Delhi."
He also called for these states to prepare an action plan on the lines of the one being drawn up for Delhi.
Delhi government also requested the Union environment ministry to take up the initiative of coordinating source- specific pollution control activities in the NCR to improve the air quality not only in Delhi, but in the entire area.