Tuesday December 11, 2018

Permanent solution for pollution in Delhi

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New Delhi: Keeping in mind the rising pollution level in Delhi, Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said in an interview that Delhi’s experiment with odd -even was a “short-term solution” but the union government is taking steps which would result in a permanent solution.

Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar said the government would notify new construction and demolition rules.

Also, bypass for trucks has been ordered to be built and Euro VI emission norms would be brought in by 2020.

“Every initiative has its importance, but (odd-even plan) is a short-term solution. The steps we are taking offer a long-term solution to the problem,” Javadekar said in an interview.

A visit for journalists to the Paldev gram panchayat in Madhya Pradesh has been organized by the Ministry of Environment, where Javadekar has adopted six villages for setting up their social infrastructure.

Odd-even formula was introduced by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to control pollution level wherein odd numbered four wheelers were allowed to ply on odd dates and even numbered on even dates.

The formula was on a trial basis for 15 days, beginning on 1st January 2016.

Two-wheelers and CNG vehicles were exempt. Experts said that the impact on pollution was limited during this fortnight though there was a sharp drop in traffic congestion in the capital.

Javadekar argued that construction and demolition waste was one of the major contributors to the pollution levels in the National Capital Region. “For the first time in India, we are ready with construction and demolition rules which will be declared in the next 15 days,” Javadekar said.

With the construction of a bypass for thousands of non-Delhi bound trucks and other vehicles pollution level will reduce permanently, said, minister.

“The project was being discussed for the last 10 years but Modiji got the construction started and it will be ready in the next 18 months,” he said. “This will bring big relief to the citizens who will also have to contribute by maintaining their vehicles, sticking to their lanes, cycling to nearby places and using public transport as much as possible,” Javadekar said.

He also said the government’s target of having Euro VI emission norms by 2020, fours years in advance to the previous UPA government’s target of having it by 2024, was a “huge target” which his government was confident of achieving.

According to the statement, some 150,000 e-rickshaws would ply on the roads of the national capital in the next couple of years as the government had already passed the e-rickshaw bill. “This will change the whole scenario in Delhi.”

The minister was upbeat about the progress in the clean Ganga campaign and said the government was considering a policy whereby the contractors for the effluent treatment plants would be asked to maintain it as well.

Following the CoP21 climate change meeting in Paris last December, the minister said that by June this year discussions on how to achieve emission targets in the next five years in every state and district will be carried out.

“Currently, India’s contribution to the world emissions is only five percent, whereas China, Europe and the US together account for more than 60 percent of the emissions,” he said.

“Our emissions will grow because we are on a growth trajectory but it will grow on a sustainability basis,” he said.

He said his government’s focus was on water saving, energy saving and efficiency measures as well as on increasing forest cover and green initiatives.(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)