Saving Delhi's air: Environment ministry wants to ban polluting vehicles, burning garbage

After a series of alarming reports on deteriorating air quality in Delhi and National Capital Region, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and its counterparts in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan have finally come up with a framework to curb pollution. The steps, which have to be taken before 2 July, include ban on burning of waste, waste-to-energy conversion system, banning polluting vehicles, conversion of coal plants into gas facilities, automatic identification of overloaded vehicles and adhering to upcoming norms on handling of construction waste.

The decisions were taken in a meeting of environment ministers and officials of Delhi and the three states with Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar. The participants will again sit together in July to review the implementation and finalise mid-tem and long-term action plans.

 Saving Delhis air: Environment ministry wants to ban polluting vehicles, burning garbage

Reuters image.

Referring to the decisions taken, Javadekar said the thermal power plants in NCR that use coal will be converted into gas units to reduce emissions.

“The NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) has decided to replace older units I, II and III in Badarpur in a fixed time to reduce the emission. Units IV and V will be retrofitted with coal-to-gas conversion facility, which is expected to bring pollution down to a great extent. The government is committed to clean up Delhi’s air and its surroundings,” he said.

In Badarpur, four to five National Thermal Power Corporation coal plants will be retrofitted with the coal-to-gas conversion facility.

Among other decisions, the Haryana government has said it will register vehicles having Bharat Stage IV (BS-IV) engines in 11 NCR districts such as Bhiwani, Palwal, Panipat, Sonipat, Gurgaon , Faridabad, among others. Rajasthan promised to check the quality of fuel used in industries in Bhiwadi. These engines are designed for low emission.

Eighteen coal-based units in Ghaziabad will be converted into gas. Delhi will launch an “online monitoring system to map air polluting activities” in the city by June. It also took the responsibility of inspecting all centres that issue Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates to vehicles to ensure strict compliance of rules and regulations.

"Delhi government will conduct regular checking of PUC centres to ensure their equipments are not tempered with and they are using proper mechanism for issuing certificates. Automatic number plate recognition system will be launched by government to check non-destined vehicles. This system will keep record of all vehicles entering Delhi," he said.

The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) would build Asia's first plasma gasification plant to convert polluting waste material to gas. “If it is implemented and starts functioning successfully, it will fulfil the city’s electricity needs,” said the minister.

Delhi traffic officials also participated in the meeting. They sought permission to raise fines for overloading, polluting vehicles and causing congestion.

“The traffic police in Delhi have issued 10,000 challans for not maintaining lane discipline, which was identified as a key reason for congestion and traffic pile-ups, resulting in longer hours spent on the roads, thus contributing to vehicular pollution,” said the minister.

He also said the Motor Vehicles Act will be appropriately amended in the upcoming parliamentary session to rein in on polluting vehicles.

Javadekar also said his ministry was working on formulating a comprehensive policy to deal with construction waste and dust. "We will come out with the policy and related implementing rules within 10 days,” he added.

Welcoming the decision, Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said that the focus should be on curbing pollution from any vehicle irrespective of its age.

“The polluting emissions are not always related to the age of a vehicle. A five-year-old car can pollute air more than a 10-year-old car if it is not maintained properly. Stringent on-road inspections should be done so that visibly polluting vehicles can be caught and fined,” she added.

Clean Air Asia India Director Parthaa Bosu said it is a “good” initiative but its implementation is most important. Shirin Bithal, a research associate at CSE’s air pollution unit, also says “rapid motorisation” and “poor quality fuel” have aggravated air pollution in the city. “Therefore, emission norms need to be tightened,” she felt.

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Updated Date: Apr 15, 2015 11:31:31 IST