Down To Earth Editor Sunita Narain remembers the three-time chief minister of Delhi who passed away on July 20, 2019
In 1998, when Sheila Dikshit became the chief minister of Delhi, the city’s fight against toxic air pollution was at its peak.
The Supreme Court had issued direction to move buses and autorickshaws to compressed natural gas (CNG). This was difficult to implement and contested by many who had interests in dirty diesel.
Sheilaji’s challenge was to move the system to accept CNG as a new cleaner fuel to drive Delhi’s vehicles. Nowhere in the world had such a massive transition been done. So, it was a formidable task.
She took it on. Her acceptance of the need to control air pollution in the city brought about a change in mindsets and broke the resistance of the bureaucracy to adopt this idea.
The city saw a speedy implementation to CNG, which brought down levels of air pollution by early 2000. When the spiral of pollution went up again by late 2000, she encouraged all of us to find solutions.
It was the same with all other issues related to environment – from cleaning the Yamuna to green cover. Green issues were important for her. At all times.
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