Paldev, Madhya Pradesh: Delhi's experiment with odd-even car days was a "short-term solution" but the union government was putting in place steps which would result in a permanent solution on the rising level of air pollution, says a senior minister.
Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said the government would notify new construction and demolition rules, a bypass for trucks has been ordered to be built and Euro VI emission norms would be brought in by 2020.
"Every initiative has its importance, but (odd-even plan) is a short-term solution. The steps we are taking offer a long-term solution to the problem," Javadekar told IANS in an interview.
The Ministry of Environment has organised the visit by journalists to the Paldev gram panchayat in Madhya Pradesh, where Javadekar has adopted six villages for setting up their social infrastructure.
From January 1-15, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had introduced an odd-even traffic plan wherein odd numbered four wheelers were allowed to ply on odd dates and even numbered on even dates. Two-wheelers and CNG vehicles were exempt.
Experts have said that the impact on pollution was limited during this fortnight, though there was sharp drop in traffic congestion in the capital.
Javadekar argued that construction and demolition waste was one of the major contributors to the pollution levels in the National Capital Region. "For the first time in India, we are ready with construction and demolition rules which will be declared in the next 15 days," Javadekar said.
The minister said the construction of a bypass for thousands of non-Delhi bound trucks and other vehicles will permanently bring down the pollution level.
"The project was being discussed for the last 10 years but Modiji got the construction started and it will be ready in the next 18 months," he said. "This will bring big relief to the citizens who will also have to contribute by maintaining their vehicles, sticking to their lanes, cycling to nearby places and using public transport as much as possible," Javadekar said.
He also said the government's target of having Euro VI emission norms by 2020, fours years in advance as compared to the previous UPA government's target of having it by 2024, was a "huge target" which he said his government was confident of achieving. These norms for vehicular emissions are far stricter than earlier ones.
He said that some 150,000 e-rickshaws would ply on the roads of the national capital in the next couple of years as his government had already passed the e-rickshaw bill. "This will change the whole scenario in Delhi."
The minister was upbeat about the progress in the clean Ganga campaign and said the government was considering a policy whereby the contractors for the effluent treatment plants would be asked to maintain it as well.
Following the CoP21 climate change meeting in Paris last December, the minister said that by June this year the government would have a broad outline on how to achieve emission targets in the next five years in every state and district.
"Currently, India's contribution to the world emissions is only five percent, whereas China, Europe and the US together account for more than 60 percent of the emissions," he said.
"Our emissions will grow because we are on a growth trajectory but it will grow on a sustainability basis," he said.
He said his government's focus was on water saving, energy saving and efficiency measures as well as on increasing forest cover and green initiatives.