New Delhi, June 1 : Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said that his ministry was coming up with the rules for implementation of construction and demolition waste control so as to control dust, a major source of pollution in cities.
The Minister opined that strict implementation of pollution and emission laws with harsh punishment and penalties to the defaulters is the prerequisite for ambient air quality.
The remarks were made during the detailed meeting of the 15th Finance Commission on issues relating to air quality of urban areas.
The objective of the meeting was to discuss the status of the implementation of the Finance Commission recommendations for 2020-21 for administering the grants to improve air quality in million-plus cities.
The Finance Commission, in its report for the Financial Year 2020-2021, had recommended grants of Rs 4,400 crore for 2020-21 to improve the ambient air quality in fifty million plus cities and Urban Agglomerations (UAs).
For this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Challenge has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the desired outcomes through these urban local bodies. The report was the first time that any Commission has given attention to air quality as a major focus.
During the meeting, the Commission was told that there is a network of around 984 stations covering a wide range of cities and towns, around 779 manual stations and 205 continuous monitoring stations in around 500 cities which were set up under the National Control of Air Pollution (NACP) to meet its objectives.
It was explained that even though a network of AQI monitoring stations are in place, there is a need for strengthening and expanding these along with the geographical area to cover the air-shed areas in order to make it more robust and accurate.
The Finance Commission was also told that the ministry has begun this work earlier as part to roll-out NACP and various think-tanks like IITs, IIMs and NITs have been made local partners for different cities and towns.
The ministry will also seek their expert guidance on what the Commission needs to consider for the five years from 2021.
It was further apprised that the problem of air quality is mostly not a localised phenomenon and is influenced by many factors beyond the control of a particular region, therefore the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is now focusing on air-shed management approach.
Javadekar added that there would be a basic structural change in sources of air quality in the next few years and particularly in larger cities of the country due to the new regime to emission norms which would lead to an estimated reduction of 30 to 40 per cent in vehicular emission.
He informed that with the launching the National Air Quality Index in 2015, the country now has reliable data of air quality with respect to 42 million plus cities from 2017 onwards.
The Minister also informed the Commission that his Ministry was coming up with the rules for implementation of construction and demolition waste control so as to control dust.
As regards ease of doing business, the ministry is coming up with an amendment to the notification of environment impact assessment.
He also mentioned the various reforms implemented in the coal washeries that brought down the pollution by several fold and many other steps have been initiated by the ministry as part of ease of doing business at national and international level.
The Finance Commission Chairman, while stressing on the need for consistent and reliable data on air quality, stated that the panel was concerned about the pollution of NCR and would address the same within its mandate
He assured the ministry that the Commission would continue its consultations with the ministry on this critical issue of air quality in million plus cities to firm up its recommendations.
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