New Delhi: The national capital's air quality has improved in the last three years and the number of 'good' and 'moderate' days has increased, according to a report tabled by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.
It also said that there has been an overall improvement in the air quality of Delhi in 2019 (from January-November 19) successively from 2016.
"As per continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations data, there is general improvement in air quality of Delhi in 2018 from 2017," Javadekar said.
The numbers of 'good', 'satisfactory' and 'moderate' days has increased to 159 in 2018 as compared to 152 in 2017 and 106 in 2016, while the number of 'poor', 'very poor' and 'severe' days has reduced to 206 in 2018 compared to 213 in 2017 and 246 in 2016.
"In Delhi, reduction in PM 2.5 levels in 2018 is 7.3 per cent over 2017 and 14.8 per cent over 2016. In Delhi, reduction in PM10 levels in 2018 is 8.6 per cent over 2017 and 16.5 per cent over 2016," the minister said in the report table in the Upper House of Parliament.
"Further, there is overall improvement in air quality of Delhi in 2019 (from January-November 19) successively since 2016. The number of 'good' to 'moderate' days increased to 175 in 2019, as compared to 158 in 2018 while the number of 'poor' to 'severe' days reduced to 148, compared to 165 in 2018," the report said.
Informing the House about the step taken by the government to tackle the issues, he said a high-level task force has been set up under the chairmanship of the principal secretary to the prime minister in November 2017, which is closely monitoring the implementation of measures related to management of air pollution in Delhi and NCR.
A comprehensive Air Plan for the national capital region has been developed identifying the timeline and a source-based approach has been adopted to control air pollution.
The Environment Ministry also launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) in January to tackle the problem of air pollution in a comprehensive manner with targets to achieve 20 to 30 per cent reduction in PM 10 and PM 2.5 concentration.
This would be achieved by 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year.
Moreover, over the vehicular emissions, BS VI emission norms would be applicable in the country from April 1, 2020, and this would led to 80 per cent reduction in particulate matter emissions.
The government has also taken initiatives for stringent emission norms for coal-based thermal plants and has closed Badarpur Thermal power plant from October 15, 2018.
In order to prevent stubble burning, a new central sector scheme on promotion of agricultural mechanisation for in-situ management of crop residue in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Padesh and Delhi is being implemented.
Farmers Not Solely Responsible for Rising Pollution: RS Members
Rajya Sabha members defended the farmers saying they alone should not be held responsible for the rising levels of pollution, while suggesting that they must get incentives for not burning crop residue.
During a discussion on the issue, they said pollution level is on rise also because of contribution from industries, construction activities and vehicular emissions.
Javadekar on Thursday tabled a report on the steps taken by the Centre to control the pollution in Delhi-NCR and said there is an overall general improvement in the air quality of the national capital successively from 2016.
The government has set up a High Level Task Force under the chairmanship of the principal secretary to the prime minister, which is closely monitoring the implementation of measures related to management of air pollution in the region.
A comprehensive Air Plan for NCR has been developed identifying the timeline and a source-based approach has been adopted to control air pollution. Kumari Selja of the Congress said that farmers alone should not be held responsible and the government should arm them with technologies and incentives to not burn crop residue.
"There should be incentives for not burning stubble and also the issues should be linked with programmes as MGNREGA," she said.
She further added that the issue needs a holistic approach as farmers from Punjab and Haryana are held guilty like criminals.
BJP MP Vijay Goel alleged that the Delhi government has done nothing to combat pollution and the city slipped to 118th rank in the latest Global Liveability Index for 2019 in a year from 112th.
According to a recent report from Gangaram Hospital, the number of patient with lungs related diseases has grown up 10 times.
Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD said that real estate sector and the industries are responsible for the pollution in Delhi. He further added that there is no scientific study to show that the farmers of Haryana, Punjab and Western UP are responsible for the hazardous pollution in Delhi.
JDU's Kahkashan Perveen suggested that the green cover in the national capital should be increased as done by the Bihar government.
Sanjay Singh of the AAP said that even Union Minister Javedkar in his report has admitted that the pollution in Delhi has reduced in the last two years and the city is no more in the list of the top polluted places.
According to him, the green cover in Delhi has increased to 17 per cent and the two polluting power plants in the city have been closed by the AAP government.
While Veer Singh of the BSP suggested that the government should buy stubble from the farmers, Vandana Chavan of the NCP said that cities should have carbon inventories. She said the state government and municipal bodies should be encouraged for that.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said all political parties need to come together to tackle the problem of air pollution. He said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar should ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convene a meeting of chief ministers and Lt governors in order to set an agenda to deal with the issue.
"In the meeting, it can be decided as what would the central government do and what role can the states play to curtail air pollution," Azad said. He noted that pregnant women and children were the worst sufferers of the hazardous air quality.
Balwinder Singh Bhunder (SAD) said that stubble burning was not the only cause of air pollution and that industries and emissions from vehicles were the bigger culprits. He sought funds for farmers as well as provision of advance equipment to be utilised in the farms to reduce air pollution.
SP's Ravi Prakash Verma said that around 12.5 lakh people died due to ailments related to air pollution in the country in 2017. He said that despite deaths taking place annually, the response of the government is not satisfactory. He asked the government to form a joint parliamentary committee to deliberate on the serious problem.
K J Alphons of the BJP attacked the AAP government in Delhi for "not taking adequate steps to tackle the issue". He said the Kejriwal government should stop giving out
advertisements but instead start taking some real action on the ground.
Countering him, AAP MP Sushil Kumar Gupta listed various initiatives being taken by his government. He said the AAP government brought in odd-even scheme and is trying to popularise public transport in the capital.
MD Nadimul Haque (AITC) said the Delhi government has taken various good steps to tackle air pollution.
Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said that it is made to believe that stubble burning is the main cause of air pollution whereas it is the emissions from vehicles and industries that are the main contributors for the worsening air quality. "It is the anti-farmer lobby that has been promoting this," he noted.