Will intensify crackdown on those violating anti-pollution norms: Env Secy

New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) The government will intensify crackdown on those violating anti-pollution norms over the next fifteen days, a top official of the Environment Ministry said on Monday after holding a high-level meeting with Delhi and its neighbouring states to tackle air pollution.

Shortly after the meeting with chief secretaries of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, Environment Secretary C K Mishra briefed reporters that illegal construction and industrial pollution will be monitored closely till December end.

The meeting was held in the wake of severe air pollution in these northern states.

In the next 15 days the government will try and keep the dust down by using water, the secretary said. 'There is going to be a huge crackdown on any illegal construction, which is completely banned right now, when it resumes and even industrial pollution,' he said.

'We have decided that over the next 15 days, there is going to be a very intensified action which will have to continue throughout December,' Mishra said.

The secretary also said that new technologies were under consideration to tackle the menace of pollution.

'We are looking at new technologies, some were tried last year and some are under finalisation under the Department of Science and Technology which will soon be coming to us. That is a longer term solution,' said Mishra.

He said that by August next year all dusty areas in Delhi-NCR will either be greened or paved.

During the briefing, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Chairman S P S Parihar said that there has been a reduction of PM 2.5 levels by 15 per cent in 2018 compared to 2016.

The northern states have been witnessing severe air pollution since last month, with the air quality even touching the 'emergency' mark.

The air pollution in the national capital was so toxic after Diwali that the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR and advised people, especially children and the aged, to refrain from venturing outside their homes.

Mishra, who chaired the high level meeting, said, 'We, unfortunately, had a spate of bad meteorology in Delhi. Meteorology plays a major role as far as Delhi NCR is concerned because of its geographical location.

'Meteorology is something we may not be able to change, but we will try to continuously bring down the level of pollutants and particulate matter level. So that we can avoid a very bad situation,' he said, adding that there was a roadmap ready as per which the ministry and the CPCB will monitor the situation on a daily basis.

Among those present at the meeting were district magistrates of Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon and surrounding areas. Chief Secretary of Delhi and all municipal commissioners, official from Public Works Department (PWD) and other organs of Delhi government also attended it.

However, the chief secretary of Punjab and principal secretaries of UP and Haryana participated through video conference.

The secretary also said that the official reviewed the action plan relating to control of local emissions, discussed the issue of dust and construction and demolition waste, the waste disposal measures taken, water sprinkling by concerned agencies and efforts regarding industrial pollution.

'The main findings are that the sources of emission apart from incursion from neighbouring states -- in the form of dust, stubble burning etc -- are the ones coming from vehicular emission and industrial emissions.

'Congestion spots causing vehicular emissions have been identified and it was discussed with Delhi Police, which was also represented in the meeting. We will try to remove the congestion,' the secretary said.

The meeting comes three days after several MPs and top officials of the Environment Ministry skipped the parliamentary standing committee meet to discuss the rising levels of air pollution in the national capital.

Among the absentees was Member of Parliament from East Delhi, Gautam Gambhir. PTI AG AAR