Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3
Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
In news: CPCB submitted solution before SC to deal with November 2016 public health crisis emerging from air pollution. The court is demanding from the government about the steps taken to mitigate air pollution.
Firecrackers during Diwali celebrations and stubble burning pollution coming to Delhi from nearby states created massive and unprecedented air pollution problem in November. The situation was responded immediately. But SC took notice of the pollution and directed the government to frame a Graded Response Action Plan.
It means when there are different air pollution levels, what are the steps to be taken. In terms of action, large number of actions have been taken up in past such as vehicle pollution is sought to be controlled by implementing BS IV standards for vehicles and matching fuel in NCR and many other major cities.
From April 2017, the entire country will have BS IV equivalent vehicle and fuel quality norms.
Actions are taken up against polluting industries, the emission standards have been made more stringent, there is more focus on enforcement of industries etc. So there are steps taken throughout the country for different sources.
Graded Response Action Plan
The Government has notified a Graded Response Action Plan for Delhi and NCR, which comprises measures such as
prohibition on entry of trucks into Delhi
ban on construction activities
introduction of odd and even scheme for private vehicles
shutting of schools
closure of brick kilns, hot mix plants and stone crushers etc.
The nature, scope and rigor of measures to be taken is linked to levels of pollution viz. Severe+ or Emergency, Severe, Very poor, Moderate to poor and Moderate, after due consideration by authorities concerned.
Thus, as per the severity of the pollution, steps shall be taken until the cleaner environment doesn’t prevail.
Major strategies/steps to tackle increasing air pollution in Indian cities and urban areas include
control and mitigation measures related to emissions from automobiles, industrial activities
notification of National Ambient Air Quality Standards
formulation of environmental regulations / statutes
setting up of monitoring network for assessment of ambient air quality
introduction of cleaner / alternate fuels like gaseous fuel (CNG, LPG etc.), ethanol blending
promotion of cleaner production processes
launching of National Air Quality Index
universalization of BS-IV by 2017
leapfrogging from BS-IV to BS-VI fuel standards by 1st April, 2020
comprehensive amendments to various Waste Management Rules and notification of Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules
ban on burning of leaves, biomass, municipal solid waste
promotion of public transport and network of metro, e-rickshaws, car pooling, etc.
Most of the cities have moderate to poor quality now throughout the year. There are actions given for it like: cleaning road dust- especially the unpaved roads or roads with heavy traffic, dust gets suspended. So plan suggests that there has to be a mechanism to identify which are the priority roads in terms of potential to have suspended dust. Other measure is water sprinkling on roads so that dust doesn’t get suspended.
Outdoor air quality and indoor air quality throughout the cities has also deteriorated. The graded action plan is expected to improve the air quality. When the air quality is moderate to poor, there are actions defined for it. These actions are to prevent that the air quality doesn’t get deteriorated to next higher level i.e. very poor.
Coordination has been not upto the mark throughout the year between various agencies to maintain pollution. But when it is very high then government departments like municipalities, traffic department, pollution control board, ministry of industries are working together.
Environmental Pollution Control Authority
Environmental Pollution Control Authority has been entrusted with the responsibility to enforce graded response action plan and the task force is constituted by central board.
The issues taken up by the EPCA included fuel quality, pre-mixed oil dispensers, adulteration of fuels, fuel testing laboratory, vehicle technology, emission warranty for vehicles, setting up of CNG out lets, conversion of public transport fleet to CNG mode, traffic management etc.
Since its inception in 1998, the EPCA is pursuing the various agencies to implement plan of action of white paper, priority measures for air pollution control and various orders by Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Public awareness and public participation is very crucial. There is a need of proper budgetary allocation to fill up the gaps of infrastructural deficiencies. It is very clear that this problem cannot be solved overnight. Hence, the public and government together have to do their job together as well as in individual capacity.
Connecting the dots:
Why is air pollution now becoming a major health hazard in India? Examine. What are the solutions to control such pollution?