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New Delhi, September 20, 2020
A high-level task force led by Dr P K Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, on curbing air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR) met on Friday to review the action taken by agencies and to firm up plans for the coming season.
Dr Mishra emphasized that the meeting was called well in advance before the onset of harvesting and winter season to ensure that proper precautionary and preventive measures to combat the causes of air pollution were taken well in time.
Assessing the overall situation, he noted that crop burning incidents in neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh continued to remain high in the previous year. He issued directions to intensify the planned actions to ensure that stubble burning was discontinued.
Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Secretaries of different department/ministries of the Central Government including the Ministries of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Agriculture, Road Transport and Highways and Petroleum, and officials of the Central Pollution Control Board were present in the meeting.
The meeting reviewed the main sources of air pollution, the measures taken and the progress made by the State Governments and various Ministries. It noted that the incidence of stubble burning had reduced by more than 50% in the past two years and the number of Good AQI (air quality) days have gone up.
The efforts and plan made by the State of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for control of crop residue burning were examined in detail, including ground-level deployment and availability of machinery for in-situ management of crop residue.
It was observed that after the recent inclusion of residue-based power/fuel plants under priority sector lending by Reserve Bank of India, both State and Central Governments should jointly work out action plans for rapid deployment of such units. Measures related to the diversification of crop and strengthening of supply chains were also discussed.
Dr Mishra highlighted the importance of effective implementation of the existing in-situ management of crop residue scheme of Ministry of Agriculture by the States and emphasized that State Governments should ensure that the new machinery to be deployed in the current year should reach the farmers before the start of the harvesting season. The Ministry was directed to provide all the necessary support.
To control stubble burning, it was stressed that an adequate number of teams should be deployed at ground level and they should ensure that no stubble burning takes place especially in the State of Punjab, Haryana and UP. These States need to put extra efforts and appropriate incentives, especially in the relevant districts.
The Delhi Government was requested to ensure measures to control local sources of pollution. He said special emphasis should be laid on the deployment of teams for control of open burning of waste, IT-enabled monitoring of mechanical road sweepers, improvement in utilization of construction & demolition waste and site-specific implementation of an action plan for identified hot spots.
It was decided that Haryana and Uttar Pradesh would prepare and implement similar site-specific action plans in their area falling under NCR.
Dr Mishra emphasized that these measures should be implemented well before the onset of severe conditions, and focus should also be laid on compliance of emission norms by the industry in satellite industrial areas.