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Centre and Delhi govt to clean polluted Yamuna together

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New Delhi: The centre and the Delhi government have decided to come together to clean up the Yamuna river in the capital.

yamuna-pollutionThey will be using a Special Purpose Vehicle for this purpose, a Delhi government official said after a meeting between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti.

A blueprint will be prepared in 45 days, the official added.

The beautification of the Yamuna river front also came up at the meeting, also attended by Delhi’s Water Minister Kapil Mishra.

The Yamuna, venerated by Hindus, originates from the Yamunotri glacier, at 6,387 metres above sea level in the Himalayas. It flows through Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh (1,376 km) before merging with the Ganga in Allahabad.

The river accounts for 70 percent of Delhi’s water needs.

The Yamuna is considered largely clean from Yamunotri until Wazirabad in northeast Delhi when the polluted stretch starts.

Kejriwal said all concerned ministries and departments would have to work together for cleaning the “historic river and reviving its past glory”.

A water resources ministry statement said Uma Bharti accepted Kejriwal’s request for convening a joint meeting soon with Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.

She said she will take up the matter with the concerned ministers.

Kejriwal said such a meeting was important as all the concerned departments would have to work together for cleaning the river.

(IANS)

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Air Pollution Worsens In Western Balkan Cities

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government's response is inadequate.

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Smog, Air pollution
General view of the city as smog blankets Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. VOA

When winter arrives in the Western Balkans, it is not unusual for dense smog to envelop its cities, making it hard to breathe and impairing visibility. But this year, air pollution levels are among the highest in the world and public anger is on the rise.

In recent days, the Bosnian, Macedonian and Kosovar capitals topped the charts of the world’s most polluted cities as the smog intensified due to heavy traffic, excessive use of coal, poor spatial planning and solid fuel based heating.

The air quality index measured by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo hit 383 on Tuesday, a level identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as hazardous to health and almost 10 times the average. In Pristina, the index registered 415 on Monday night and marked air quality in several Macedonian towns as very poor.

“This is all the result of a situation in which political elites treat the city as a construction plot which should be occupied at all costs rather than a place where people live,” Anes Podic of Sarajevo’s Eko Akcija environmental group said.

global warming, air pollution, Asia
The sun is seen through evening air pollution, Feb. 8, 2018. VOA

“You can feel how bad the air smells even inside the car or home,” said a taxi driver Mirsad Pobric.

According to the WHO, pollution costs Bosnia the equivalent of more than a fifth of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) every year — around $3.9 billion — in lost work and school days, healthcare and fuel costs.

Macedonia loses an equivalent of 3.2 percent of GDP a year to pollution, the World Bank said in a report, more than$360 million a year.

As a way of bringing more attention to the issue, the Embassy of Sweden has been using red lighting on its facade in central Sarajevo to reflect air quality each day. The deeper the red, the worse the pollution.

According to the WHO, 230 Bosnians die of air pollution per 100,000 citizens a year, compared to 0.4 in Sweden. The World Bank estimates that in Macedonia there are 1,350 deaths related to air pollution per year.

Air pollution
Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency .Wikimedia Commons

“Pollution is killing people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, therefore something really needs to be done,” Swedish Ambassador Anders Hagelberg told Reuters.

As part of efforts to combat the issue, Sweden has launched a four-year project in Bosnia that will bring together experts from its Environmental Protection Agency and local hydro-meteorological agencies and governments.

The aim of the program is to help improve air quality monitoring but also to bring more investment into energy efficiency.

Also Read: U.N. Chief Warns The World About Not Doing Enough To Prevent Climate Change

Macedonia has launched its own program to combat air pollution to which the government allocated 1.6 million euros ($1.83 million) in next year’s budget. It aims to halve Skopje’s air pollution within two years by reducing taxes for central heating, restricting traffic and introducing stricter control of industrial emissions.

Activists say the funds allocated are insufficient and that the government’s response is inadequate. (VOA)