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Environment Minister calls for collective action to tackle air pollution

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has emphasized that urban forestry, school nurseries and public participation are needed to reduce the air pollution in the country.

Replying to calling attention to the situation arising out of the dangerous levels of air pollution in Delhi and other parts of the country, Mr. Javadekar said, different factors are responsible for air pollution in various cities.

He said, Centre has launched National Action for Clean Air and 122 cities have been identified where the air pollution is above the limit. He called for collective action to tackle air pollution saying the government is committed to check the menace in coming years.

The Minister listed a series of measures taken by the NDA Government saying that India has increased its forest cover by 13,000 square kilometres.

Earlier, in his statement, the Minister said, Delhi has witnessed overall improvement in air quality so far this year successively since 2016. He said, the number of good to moderate days in term of air quality has increased to 175 in 2019 as compared to 158 in 2018 and poor to severe days reduced to 148 as compared to 165 last year.

He informed that in 2019-20, the total stubble burning incidents in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana were reduced by 19 per cent as compared to last year.

The Minister also said, a comprehensive air plan for Delhi and NCR region have been developed and a graded response action plan for a different level of pollution has been notified.

He added that the government is promoting cleaner alternative fuels like CNG, LPG and ethanol-blended petrol. He said in the year 2018-19, state governments have supplied over 56 thousand machines to farmers and custom hiring centres for in-situ management of crop residue.

He added that Centre has allocated ten crore rupees for 28 cities in the current year for promoting public awareness.

Mr Javadekar informed that ambient air quality is monitored at 793 locations covering 344 cities 35 states and Union Territories.

Participating in the discussion, Leader of Opposition Gulam Nabi Azad appealed to the government to convene the meeting of all the Chief Ministers and prepare a time-bound action plan. Ms Jaya Bacchan of Samajwadi Party demanded to declare environment emergency in the country.

Kumari Selja of Congress said that a holistic approach should be adopted to tackle the problem of air pollution. She said, instead of accusing farmers of stubble burning, they should be provided technology and incentive.

Mr Vijay Goel of BJP criticized the Delhi government for the current situation in the national capital region. He accused that Arvind Kejriwal Government has not done anything concrete to tackle this menace.

While Mr. Goel was speaking, there was a heated argument between the members of treasury and the opposition benches over the issue. Highlighting the several measures taken by the AAP Government to improve the air quality in the city, Mr Sanjay Singh of Aam Adami Party accused BJP of tarnishing the image of the Kejriwal Government on this issue.

Ms Vandana Chavan of NCP appealed that no politics should be played on this sensitive issue. She stressed that concrete steps must be taken at the grassroot level to address air pollution.

RJD MP, Prof. Manoj Jha said, the only farmer cannot be made responsible for the air pollution.

On the other hand, Lok Sabha resumed discussion on air pollution and climate change.

Participating in the discussion, Mr Satyapal Singh of BJP emphasized that it is the responsibility of every person to work towards checking air pollution.  

Ms Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal said that the Supreme Court had to declare health emergency due to severe air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

She said, the Standing Committee in its report on air pollution last year suggested some measures on in issues including stubble burning and municipal solid waste management.

Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy of BJP said that air pollution is not limited to Delhi only but various cities in the country are facing its effect.

He said, construction activities, vehicles and industries are causing air pollution and everyone will have to work on this issue to mitigate the impact.

Mr Shashi Tharoor of Congress said that political differences on the issue of pollution should be ended and there is a need to bring the best minds together to find a solution in this regard.

Ms Supriya Sule of NCP requested to integrate Air Act with the health involving Health Ministry. She said, there is no need to spend money on advertisement by the governments but they should put the money on social sectors for the welfare of the people.

Mr N K Premachandran of RSP said that Environmental Act should not be compromised for the sake of ease of doing business and development. He called for bringing a National Plan without compromising the Environment Act.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekr will reply to the debate today. 

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