Delhi targets 66% reduction in air pollution in 5 years

Delhi targets 66% reduction in air pollution in 5 years; sets aside Rs 30 cr for smog towers

 A soldier waits on a street near India Gate in heavy smoggy conditions in New Delhi on December 6, 2019. Credit: AFP Photo

The Delhi government on Monday said it has set a target to reduce air pollution in the city by two-thirds in the next five years and set aside Rs 30 crore in the 2020-21 budget to install smog towers across the national capital.

"Green Citizen Awards" will also be instituted to encourage citizens to contribute to environment protection and preservation work, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said while presenting the budget in Delhi Assembly.

"Keeping the air of Delhi clean and making Delhi green is one of 10 guarantees of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Due to various efforts, air pollution was reduced by 25 per cent in the last five years. Our goal is to reduce it by two-thirds in the next five years.

"There is also a need to implement projects to establish smog towers to reduce pollution on a large scale. I propose an outlay of Rs 30 crore under the Pollution Control and Environment Management scheme to control air pollution in Delhi," said Sisodia, who also holds the finance portfolio.

Experts have questioned the feasibility of smog towers, saying they are not suitable to Delhi's meteorological conditions.

Several environment experts had earlier written to the Supreme Court, requesting directions not to allow government agencies to install smog towers on grounds of ineffectiveness and calling them a "waste of public money".

The government also proposed a new scheme, Deployment of Marshals, in the environment department with an outlay of Rs 2 crore for equipping the district administration with a dedicated workforce.

It has allocated Rs 20 crore for carrying out intensive campaigns across Delhi to create awareness and encourage public participation to protect the environment.

"This is for segregation of waste at home, avoiding single-use plastic, rooftop plantation, gifting plants instead of offering bouquets, use of public transportation and car pooling, cycling for short distance, using jute and cloth bags, preventing waste of paper, to celebrate in eco-friendly ways and holding conferences on environmental issues, etc," Sisodia said.

He said the forest area and green cover in Delhi have increased from 299.77 sq km in 2015 to 324.44 sq km in 2019 as a result of various measures.

"In order to achieve the target of planting 2 crore saplings in the next five years, a target has been set for planting of 40 lakh saplings by 22 green agencies in the year 2020-21," he said. 

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