Rajya Sabha discusses air pollution in Delhi, urges Govt to take steps

RSTV Bureau
Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan replies to a short duration discussion in Rajya Sabha on high levels of air pollution in Delhi, on December 28, 2017.

Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan replies to a short duration discussion in Rajya Sabha on high levels of air pollution in Delhi, on December 28, 2017.

Rajya Sabha members on Thursday asked the government to take enough measures to deal with rising pollution levels in Delhi and its adjoining areas. The House held a short duration on high levels of air pollution in Delhi.

Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan in his reply to the debate assured the members of the House that the government was in the process of implementing various measures to bring down pollution in Delhi.

He also said the pollution recorded in Delhi this year is way less than what it was last year. He appealed to the members of the House to spread awareness among people so that they could use public transport more and consequently bring down vehicular pollution. The minister also said the government was focusing more on renewable energy.

When the discussion began, members asked the government to refrain from putting the blame on farmers for causing pollution by burning stubble or husk after harvest and suggested steps to help the farmers for proper disposals of this agriculture residue.

Initiating a short duration discussion on the issue, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal said, “farmers are blamed for causing pollution by burning stubble/husk. The government should take steps to deal with the situation rather than blaming farmers because vehicle/industrial emissions and others area also the reasons for it.”

Referring to the 12-point charter unveiled by the government to deal with the issue, Agrawal said that pollution will not come down just because the government would give directions to states or departments.

He expressed unhappiness over non-spending of Rs 800 crore cess collected in the name of enviroment by Delhi Government, which was not spent to deal with the issue, as it said it does not have right to spend the money.

Samajwadi Party MP, Naresh Agrawal begins short duration discussion on high levels of air pollution in Delhi in Rajya Sabha on December 28, 2017.

Samajwadi Party MP, Naresh Agrawal begins short duration discussion on high levels of air pollution in Delhi in Rajya Sabha on December 28, 2017.

Agrawal said the government should not refrain from taking steps to curb pollution because of fear of media criticism.

Congress’ TS Reddy also expressed dissatisfaction over government’s 12 point charter to deal with the issue. He drew attention towards solid waste management saying garbage is being dumped in improper manner.

Referring to the government’s plan to use electric cars for officials, he said there was a need for electric public transport system including buses and metro rail to reduce dependence on fossil fuels which caused pollution.

He was also of the view that the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan should take steps to deal with stubble burning after harvest.

A Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) also echoed similar views and asked the chair to consider conducting Parliament session in winters in Chennai where pollution levels are low.

Derek O Brien (TMC) said a large number of lives have been lost due to pollution and suggested that the government should also look at other metropolitans and small town to deal with the problem there.

He also suggested that the government can ask people to plant one sampling on the birth of every girl child as practiced in West Bengal where 15 lakh samplings have been planted.

Prasanna Acharya ((BJD) and Harivansh (JDU) expressed the similar views and asked government to take steps to deal with the issues rather than blamming farmers.

C P Narayanan (CPI-M) said people of Delhi were suffering from pollution due to lack of coordination among the Centre, state governments and local government. He also spoke about the need to educate people on waste management.

Veer Singh (BSP) suggested that industrial units should be shifted from the national capital and action should be taken against big farmers for burning crop residues.

D Raja of CPI said air pollution was a health issue and is not limited to Delhi alone and suggested that public transport should be encouraged and massive efforts should be taken to shift towards cleaner fuel. Raja said farmers should be given subsidy for adopting to to new technology to re- plough crop residues in the field.

INLD member Ram Kumar Kashyap said trees should be planted to tackle pollution, while Pratap Singh Bajwa (Cong) urged political parties to make Delhi liveable by forgetting their differences.

On crop residue burning, he said farmers would have to incur additional cost to remove residues and they should be adequately compensated. Satyanarayan Jatia (BJP) said pollution levels have
increased and there is a need to find solution, while Kanimozhi (DMK) said pollution problem is not only in Delhi but other cities of the country. Many cities of Tamil Nadu are also facing similar situation because of industrial pollution, she said, adding that emission norms should be adhered to.

The DMK member said farmers should be given alternate choice so that they stop burning of crop residues. The government should not intervene and help farmers, she said.

(With inputs from agencies)