The Delhi government on Friday launched a 15-point action plan to mitigate air pollution in the national capital during the winter, with a strong emphasis on addressing dust pollution, vehicular emissions and the open burning of garbage.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced at a press conference that separate and specific action plans have been designed for each of the 13 air pollution hotspots of Delhi based on real-time air quality data collected from 40 monitoring stations in the national capital.
The winter action plan primarily focuses on preventing crop residue burning, dust pollution, vehicular and industrial emissions, open burning of garbage, regulating firecrackers, tree planting, ensuring effective implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), managing e-waste and fostering collaboration with neighbouring states, Kejriwal said.
Thirteen teams have been formed to implement these action plans at the identified air pollution hotspots.
"To combat crop residue burning, the Delhi government successfully implemented a free bio-decomposer technique in the past three years, which has yielded positive results. Last year, we treated 4,400 acres of farmland with the bio-decomposer method. This year, we will use it on 5,000 acres of both Basmati and non-Basmati rice fields, all free of cost," Kejriwal said.
The chief minister also announced an anti-dust campaign from October 9. It includes measures such as the installation of dust control equipment at all sites exceeding 500 square metres, with real-time monitoring available through a web portal.
Kejriwal shared that 591 teams have been set up to ensure strict compliance with dust control norms, with 530 water sprinklers and 258 mobile anti-smog guns deployed to combat dust pollution.
To tackle vehicular pollution, 385 teams have been formed to check Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificates and enforce the ban on 10-year-old diesel and 15-year-old petrol vehicles.
The city government has identified 90 congested roads where teams will be deployed to manage traffic and inform commuters of alternative routes.
The government will also deploy 611 teams to prevent the open burning of waste. An additional 66 teams will ensure that industrial units do not use unauthorised or non-compliant fuels.
Starting from October 3, a "Green War Room" will be operational 24x7 to monitor environmental indicators. A nine-member expert team has been assigned to analyse reports and plan future actions based on the gathered data.
Kejriwal encouraged people to download and use the Green Delhi mobile application, which has played a crucial role in facilitating communication between the public and the authorities on environmental violations.
"Over the past three years, the app received 70,470 complaints, with a 90 per cent resolution rate," he said.
Similar to previous years, Delhi will continue to regulate the production, storage and the sale of fireworks within the city, including for online deliveries. The residents are urged to celebrate Diwali with minimal firecrackers, Kejriwal emphasised.
This year, Delhi has set a target to plant 52 lakh trees and plants under the tree planting campaign. In the first phase, about 75 per cent, or 39.48 lakh trees and plants, have already been planted. The second phase of will commence on October 15. Additionally, the New Delhi Municipal Council aims to plant 50 lakh trees, he added.
The chief minister announced that e-waste generated in Delhi will be collected and processed in 20 identified zones. After proper disposal, all electronic waste in Delhi will be scientifically processed.
The Delhi government will also organise a "Run Against Pollution" to raise environmental awareness among the people and campaigns to check vehicular pollution and the burning of firecrackers.
The BJP, however, blasted the Kejriwal government over the action plan, calling it a "copy-paste" job.
Virendra Sachdeva, chief of the party's Delhi unit, said, "Arvind Kejriwal's winter action plan is just a show. Kejriwal did not do anything about pollution control. The winter action plan presented today is a copy-paste of the plan they presented last year."
Speaking at a press conference, he said before the AAP assumed power in Punjab, it held the northern state responsible for the pollution in Delhi.
"But now, Kejriwal is mum on Punjab," he added.
However, when asked about the stubble burning situation in Punjab, Kejriwal said, "Last year, (after) our government was formed, we got six to seven months. But government data shows that last year there was 30 per cent less stubble burning as compared to the previous year."
This year, several steps are being taken, including the diversification of crops under which farmers have been asked to grow crops other than paddy, he said.
"This will lead to saving of water as well as less stubble (generation)," the AAP chief added.
Kejriwal said the farmers in Punjab are being encouraged to grow short-term varieties of rice, which will lead to less stubble generation and ensure more time to dispose those.
"We are getting good response. There are many companies that have come forward to adopt districts. They will take the stubble of the entire district and convert it into manure or electricity. Many other steps are being taken. It is difficult to cite the exact data on how much stubble burning will happen but I think it will be reduced," he said.