MoEF to clean up Delhi sidewalks to curb dust pollution

Roadside and construction dust is one of the four crucial components contributing to the toxic haze hanging on Delhi and its five satellite towns. PTI

Rapped by the Supreme Court for its failure to curb air pollution in Delhi and its surrounding areas, the Union Environment Ministry on Monday said that every dusty sidewalks and unpaved roads in the National Capital Region would either be paved or greened by August 2020 to substantially reduce dust pollution.

Roadside and construction dust is one of the four crucial components contributing to the toxic haze hanging on Delhi and its five satellite towns – Noida, Greater Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Faridabad – since the last one month.

After a review meeting with all the administrative agencies in the NCR as well as top officials from Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Environment Secretary C K Mishra said all dusty parts of Delhi and NCR roads would be paved or greened by August 2020.

The ministry has also decided to launch a special anti-pollution campaign to reduce pollution sources. It would continue till December 31.

Asked about the continuation of the odd-even road rationing scheme, Mishra said Delhi government would have to take a call as the scheme had both pros and cons.

The review meeting happened a day before air pollution emergency is to be debated in the Lok Sabha at the end of which Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar would respond. Last week the Supreme Court pulled up the central and state governments and asked them to share with the top court what they were doing to clean up the air.

Mishra said for the next 15 days, water would be sprinkled on the roads and sidewalks to prevent the release of dust into the atmosphere.

For the last three days, Delhi and its satellite towns were enjoying relatively better air quality due to high-speed winds that swept away the polluting particles. But with the wind speed set to be going down from Tuesday, pollution would return, though the extent would be a bit less as incidences of stubble burning have come down in the natural course.

Between October 1 and November 15, Punjab recorded a whopping 46,313 incidents of stubble burning while the numbers for such incidences in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are 5853 and 2865 respectively, according to satellite data.

Mishra admitted that the number of stubble burning cases are more in Punjab compared to the last year, while the figures came down in Haryana.

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