`Time to take Delhi fight past NCR’

Emergency measures announced by the Delhi government will help the city only if these are enforced strictly, but it won’t serve the ultimate purpose of making the National Capital Region (NCR) livable unless the Centre and neighbouring states take coordinated short, medium and long-term actions. Though the NCR states Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan–besides Delhi had been asked for take several actions within a specified time period, most of the directions issued by the Centre under different sections of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 remained on paper due to lack of coordination and divergent interests of stakeholders. “Hard decisions and coordinated actions are required. It’s not about Delhi alone. Time has come when we should even look beyond NCR and devise a plan for a bigger geographical areas under an `air shed’ approach,“ said water secretary and former chairman of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Shashi Shekhar, while referring to the concept of `air shed’ on Sunday.

The concept was discussed in the environment ministry in 2015 but could not take off after Shekhar joined the water resources ministry as its secretary.

Air shed is a geographical area sharing a common flow of air which may be exposed to similar conditions of air pollution. Pollution levels within an air shed are influ enced by complex interactions between pollutants, meteorological conditions and topography. Identification of an air shed may be significant for coordinated actions and effective strategies to improve air quality.

If the Centre goes by this concept, areas beyond NCR may be incorporated for joint action. Though non-NCR Punjab has, of late, been brought into the loop for taking measures to stop stubble burning, the state had more or less remained out of the ambit of the Centre’s action.

Even the central directions, issued by the environ ment ministry in December last year for 42-point action plan, were restricted to the NCR–Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. The states, however, even failed to take short-term measures which they were supposed to take immediately under the central direction. Emphasising that areas beyond NCR can be treated as an `air shed’ for joint action on the ground, Shekhar told TOI that the Centre can identify the `air shed’ and notify it under the existing law for actions by making state pollution control boards (SPCBs) responsible for enforcement.

Sec 144 in Gurgaon to stop waste burning

Late in the evening on Sunday, deputy commissioner T L Satyaprakash issued an order, imposing Section 144 CrPc across Gurgaon, to prohibit burning in the open of wastegarbage or any material that causes air pollution and aggravates smog formation. It finally brought city authorities out of their apparent stupor, in the wake of the dense smog that had cast a dark shadow on the skyline, reducing visibility to a few metres at midday and making throats choke and eyes water. All through Sunday, authorities appeared unwilling to take steps to tackle the crisis, even as the government in Delhi announced a slew of emergency measures. The DC’s order read: “Recent occurrence of dense smog due to heightened concentration of particulate matter (PM) has necessitated precautionary measures to address air pollution .

Source : TOI