Plans galore

The Union and the Delhi governments pledge to tackle air pollution

Published: Friday 15 January 1999

Setting an agenda :Delhi chief (Credit: The Hindu) the newly-appointed chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, soon after assuming office met Union minister for environment and forests Suresh Prabhu to examine the progress in the implementation of the white paper on environmental pollution in Delhi. In what can be said as the first serious effort made by the chief minister and the Union minister, the duo have pledged to solve the problem of air pollution in the capital.

They have reiterated the steps outlined in the white paper, prepared by the former Bharatiya Janata Party government, to combat air pollution in Delhi. These steps include increasing the number of compressed natural gas outlets and supply of unleaded petrol in Delhi; banning of loose 2- t oils; implementing the programme of pre-mixed fuel from December 31, 1998; and setting up of two fuel testing laboratories. In addition, Dikshit has also directed the state chief secretary to hold regular monthly monitoring meetings with the Environment (prevention & control) Authority to oversee compliance of Supreme Court directives on Delhi pollution.

However, undue importance has been attached to the ban on biomass burning, which is already in force in Delhi. Experts say that it has sent confusing signals about the official priorities in dealing with the matter. They are puzzled by the figures which have been flouted without supportive studies that burning of garbage emits 28 per cent of the city's air pollution followed by vehicles at 25 per cent. Even officials in the Central Pollution Control Board ( cpcb ) have denied knowledge of such data to Down To Earth. According to cpcb , vehicular pollution contributes up to 70 per cent of the total air pollution in Delhi.

In view of the official information available, controlling vehicular emissions should top the agenda for action and the political leadership must not get misled about issues and priorities, point out experts. "Without a clear set of priorities, the planners are getting lost in a maze of action points which is breeding more complacency and inaction," says Anil Agarwal, director of the Centre of Science and Environment, New Delhi.

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