Environment ministry makes action plan for tackling winter pollution

The Centre would also offer subsidy on the machines needed to dispose of farm stubble responsibly
The Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Moefcc) has devised an action plan with five states to tackle the air pollution that engulfs the Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) during winters.

During discussions, the ministry asked Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to focus on hotspots, construction activity, and waste management, apart from curbing stubble burning. During the meeting, Punjab said it would create awareness in the regions where stubble burning is rampant.

The Centre has identified 24 hotpots for air pollution in Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. In the meeting, Prakash Javadekar, union minister, Moefcc, asked the states to check their preparedness and take preventive measures before stubble burning started. 

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), state pollution control boards, DDA and NDMC also participated in the meeting. Javadekar said CPCB would monitor stubble burning everyday and action would be taken accordingly.  

The minister said apart from stubble burning there were other reasons such as garbage burning, dust and unpaved roads which caused pollution in the national capital.

“The central government has given machines to destroy crop residue. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has developed a decomposer technology that will be tried as a pilot in states this year. We are also encouraging the use of bio-CNG and bio-power. BS-VI compliant vehicles have been introduced. Measures have been taken but more needs to be done,” Javadekar said.

The Centre would also offer subsidy on the machines needed to dispose of farm stubble responsibly. For co-operatives, the subsidy on the machines would be 80 per cent and for the standalone system, it would be 50 per cent.

The minister said UP had already placed an order for 10,000 hectares of paddy land. Additionally, he said these five states were reaching out to other states for sale of stubble as animal fodder. Ministry officials said states were also being encouraged to look for innovative means to sell the stubble for any alternative use.

Recently, state-owned NTPC Limited placed a tender to procure 5 million tonnes of bio-pellets to use as co-firing fuel in 17 of its thermal power units. NTPC first procured 100 tonnes of bio-pellets in 2017 for its Dadri unit. In the latest statement, the company said it plans to increase the per cent of co-firing of bio-pellets to 10 per cent from 2.5 per cent at present. 

Air pollution hotspots

  • Delhi – Mayapuri, Bawana, Narela, Mundka, Punjab Bagh, Dwarka, Rohini, Vivek Vihar, Anand Vihar, R K Puram, Jahangirpuri
  • UP – Bulandshahar, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar
  • Haryana – Panipat, Sonipat, Gurugram, Faridabad, Jhajjar
  • Rajasthan – Bhiwani
  • CPCB to monitor stubble burning daily
  • Punjab to run awareness drives to reduce prevalence of stubble burning.

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