New Delhi: Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said today that the Centre was taking steps to reduce vehicle emissions and promote green mobility, and attacked the Delhi government for not taking steps to deal with the rising air pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Vardhan said the Union government was doing its best to reduce pollution levels but there was a need to create a mass movement involving people from all walks of life, including the youth.
“Government of India is doing its best what can be done regarding the matter. The work done in last three years is more than what has been done earlier,” he said, replying to a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the air pollution situation.
The pollution levels did not touch the severe category on 214 days this year, compared to 181 days in 2016, due to the proactive steps taken by the central government, he said.
He said while the Centre was working to tackle the problem, the Delhi government has lacked in taking proactive measures to combat the problem.
“There are certain critical issues like water sprinkling to curtail air pollution. Likewise, landfill sites are not being maintained properly,” Vardhan said criticising Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal government.
He said the Delhi government was not following guidelines to manage solid waste and dust mitigation.
Cutting across the party lines, Rajya Sabha members sought concerted efforts by the government to deal with rising pollution levels in Delhi and its adjoining areas.
The members also 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.
T S Reddy (Congress) also expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s 12-point charter to deal with the issue, saying he wanted to understand the 12 points charter. He drew attention towards solid waste management saying garbage was being dumped in an improper manner.
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 suggested that the government can ask people to plant one sapling on the birth of every girl child as practiced in West Bengal, where 15 lakh saplings have been planted.
Prasanna Acharya ((BJD) and Harivansh (JDU) expressed similar views and asked the government to take steps to deal with the problem, instead of blaming 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.
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.