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Fresh air birthright, in touch with Delhi government on steps: Minister

                                                                                                     The Times of India, New Delhi, 13th March, 2015


NEW DELHI: The level of particulate matter (PM10), which can cause serious health problems, has exceeded prescribed limits over Delhi and five neighbouring cities, including Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Meerut and Alwar, environment minister Prakash Javadekar admitted in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.


As several members raised concern over worsening air pollution in the capital and other cities across the country, Javadekar said "fresh air is a birthright" and added that the Centre was in regular touch with the Delhi government on measures to deal with the problem.


He listed stricter pollution control norms for all vehicles, mechanical sweeping of roads to deal with dust, stress on battery-operated vehicles, curbing illegal burning of garbage and long-term public transportation plans as measures to check air pollution.


"We have asked the Delhi government to come up with an action implementation plan by March 31. We have fixed timelines for these programmes. We want to take up all the 66 cities, state capitals and million-plus cities for maintaining air quality. This is very important," the minister said. Acknowledging that dangerous air pollution in Delhi was "a serious problem", irrespective of whether it was three or four times above globally-accepted standards, Javadekar, however, said no foreign help was needed to monitor air quality in the national capital or other cities.


Responding to a parliamentary question, the minister in his written response told the upper House that the levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide were in control during 2011-13, but PM10 had shot up in the same period.


"As per the analysis of data for last three years (2011-13), the levels of sulphur dioxide (annual averages of 50g/m3) and nitrogen dioxide (annual averages of 40 g/m3) were within norms. However, PM10 has exceeded the prescribed norms in all six cities (Delhi, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Meerut and Alwar)," Javadekar said.


PM10 particles are less than 10 micrometres in diameter and they can get deposited into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. The minister said provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 to prevent and control air pollution was implemented by DPCC. "Laboratories of DPCC and CPCB are adequately equipped to monitor emissions from industries," Javadekar said.


We have asked the Delhi government to come up with an action implementation plan by March 31. We have fixed timelines. We want to take up all the 66 cities," says Prakash Javadekar, Minister for environment.