‘Weak enforcement by states leading to alarming air quality’

New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) Environment Secretary A.N. Jha on Friday said that a weak enforcement mechanism related to pollution control among the states was a key reason for the alarming air quality in the national capital.

“States are required to strictly enforce the measures laid out by CPCB last year. Those instruction have to be made functional. All states have taken separate steps,” Jha told mediapersons here.

Jha met the Chief Secretaries of five states — Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi — and reviewed the steps being taken by these states to curb air pollution.

The call came as Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to alarming levels and witnessed its worst smog situation in 17 years on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the levels were 9.4 times the standard norms.

Last year, on December 10, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued a 42-point order to the the states on short, medium and long-term measures to control pollution by curbing crop burning, open garbage burning, etc.

Commenting on the paddy stubble burning in states neighbouring the national capital, Jha said: “Stubble burning has been controlled to a large extent except in Punjab where few cases of burning had emerged.”

He said that all the participating states have agreed to review the brick kilns around Delhi and close them if required.

Jha also said that the Delhi government has been asked to regulate flyash from the Badarpur power plant. The National Thermal Power Corporation will also be instructed for the same.

In the meeting, the Delhi government assured the Centre that it would use the funds collected in the form of environment tax and cess to curb pollution.

Jha said that as emergency steps, the CPCB will limit industries emitting air pollutants.

“Chairman of CPCB will keep reviewing all these developments with the states. The Centre has also called for regular monitoring and reviewing of pollution control check points for accurate certification,” Jha added.

Due to the poor air quality in Delhi, experts have requested the Centre to intervene as it would take several state governments to work together to tackle the situation.

The emergency steps suggest that ailing people must stay indoors while healthy people should avoid outdoor exercises for a few days. Closing schools temporarily was also suggested by some environment experts.

Several reasons, including unending burning of paddy stubble in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, low winds and pollution during Diwali in Delhi and other sources of pollution, along with weather-related factors, led to such abnormal levels of smog and alarming air quality in the national capital.

As per official data, the levels of PM2.5 (particulate matters with diameter less than 2.5 mm) have increased by 62.7 per cent on Wednesday, two days after Diwali.