PMO seeks permanent long term solutions to curb air pollution


New Delhi: An aerial view of Connaught Place shrouded in heavy haze post-Diwali celebrations, in New Delhi, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Delhi had anticipated the season's worst pollution levels in the morning after Diwali, but the air quality, although "very poor", turned out better than the last three years, according to data of the government's air quality monitors. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: An aerial view of Connaught Place shrouded in heavy haze post-Diwali celebrations, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

Top officials of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana on Monday outlined before the Prime Minister’s Office steps taken by their states in the past 24 hours to check air pollution, including imposing fines on those burning stubble and sprinkling of water in identified “hotspots”.

Holding a review meeting for the second consecutive day on tackling pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P K Mishra pointed out that after taking short-term measures, a system will be put in place for a permanent long-term solution, a statement issued by the PMO said.

He also asked Haryana and Punjab to provide details of additional measures taken by them to check fresh cases of fire and stubble burning in during the last 24 hours.

Delhi-NCR has been engulfed in a thick blanket of smog since Diwali on October 27.

Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh said that he is personally monitoring the situation with deputy commissioners of various districts where hotspots have been identified.

He said FIRs are also being registered for violation of The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the state government is taking strict action by enforcing the necessary fines for incidents of violation of the said Act, the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Haryana Chief Secretary Kesni Anand Arora said that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has directed all concerned to reduce the cases of stubble burning in the state at the earliest.

She said that the teams are in the field round-the-clock to control cases of air pollution.

Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev explained that water sprinkling has been intensified, and identified hotspots and corridors are being focussed upon to improve the situation.

Open dumping of garbage in the city has been stopped and maximum fine is being imposed and collected from violators of these norms.

The India Meteorological Department indicated that weather conditions are likely to remain favourable over the next few days.

Mishra emphasised the importance of pre-emptive action to prevent pollution and stressed on the need to establish a mechanism for immediate action.

The Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister P K Sinha, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba Environment Secretary, Secretary, Agriculture, Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, Director General of India Meteorological Department were among those who attended the meeting.

Pollution levels in the national capital dropped marginally on Monday morning due to a slight increase in wind speed, but the air quality remained in the ‘severe’ category.

At 4.38 am, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 438. The AQI at Alipur, Narela and Bawana were registered at 493, 486 and 472 respectively.

On Sunday, the national capital’s average AQI stood at 494, the highest since November 6, 2016 when it was 497.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. Above 500 falls in the ‘severe plus’ category.