Niti Ayog, the central government think-tank, has noted that air pollution in northern India has reached a disastrous level. As such it has come out with a plan, to be carried out over three years, in order to fix matters in this regard. It has come up with a number of measures such as imposing a higher amount of tax on petrol in the cities with the highest rate of pollution, as well as around them. It is expected that this would encourage commuters to share cars or avail the different modes of public transportation that are already there in the cities in question.
The three year action plan
The three year action plan has been named “Three Year Action Agenda to be implemented till 2019-20”. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently introduced the plan. The plan has asked for public transportation to be made faster and a lot more comfortable as well. This is being done so that people can be dissuaded from using their own vehicles on a regular basis. The think tank has also identified a number of entities such as the following that are playing a major role in contributing to this pollution:
- coal power plants
- brick kilns
- cooking and heating fires that use biomass
- burning of rubbish
- burning of crop leftover
- dust emanating from construction sites
Delhi is not the only one to blame
Normally when we think of pollution in northern India, Delhi, the national capital, always happens to be the favourite punching bag. However, contrary to popular perceptions, Delhi is not the only city contributing to this immense pollution in this part of the country. Out of the 20 most polluted cities of the world, 10 are in India. Niti Ayog has suggested people to find alternatives to activities that contribute to pollution like burning crop residue.
It has also asked people to ensure that the pollution happening from cooking fires is reduced. The think-tank has asked coal power plant owners to install Flue-gas desulpherizers. This is especially applicable for coal power plants that are located in densely populated cities or around them. However, there would be some exceptions to this particular suggestion. Coal power plants with capacity of less than 5 MW and ones that would be older than 25 years by 2020 have been exempted from the plan. Brick kilns have also been asked to start using cleaner technologies in the next three years in order to reduce pollution.
It is nice to see that the government is taking steps in order to reduce pollution. The situation is acute enough in these parts for people to consider shifting their asthmatic family members to hospitals during festivals like Diwali when pollution is at its absolute peak. The administration has already taken the first step with these suggestions but it also needs to be responsible enough and make sure that they are implemented properly.
This is where our government officers need to perform their work with the utmost honesty and not give in to the lure of money and other benefits for not doing their work properly. That will go a long way in making sure that the project starts off successfully at least. The government also needs to improve the transport in cities.
Perhaps the Mumbai local train model needs to be followed by governmental bodies in other parts of the country as well – if they too start thinking of profiteering then the situation will never improve. Harsh penalties have to be imposed so that drivers and conductors can be dissuaded from taking people for a ride with regards to time. There is a reason why people prefer private transport – they need to be given a solid reason or two to choose public transport over private ones. For this all the stakeholders need to come ahead and take responsibility.