Toxic Air: As air quality worsens, risk of asthma, cancer looms large.
Toxic Air: As air quality worsens, risk of asthma, cancer looms large.. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, July 30 : Amid the din, a Bill to provide for the constitution of a commission for air quality management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and its adjoining areas for better co-ordination, research, identification and resolution of the problems surrounding the air quality index was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Centre had come up with an ordinance to this effect in 2020 but it lapsed on March 12 this year.

The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2021, was promulgated by April 13 and now, the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021 seeks to replace this ordinance.

Welcoming the move, associate professor at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Delhi, Sagnik Dey, said "The scientific community has been saying this for many years now that you cannot manage Delhi's air by activities confined to Delhi. It must be an air shed approach. The government has finally taken this seriously." Delhi being a landlocked state, the sources of air pollution comprise factors beyond the local municipal and local government limits. Agricultural activities, majorly straw burning, brick kilns, thermal plants, transport and industry, apart from construction in Delhi-NCR, all contribute to the air pollution but several of these are non-local sources.

"Since air pollution is not a localised phenomenon, the effect is felt in areas even far from the source, thus creating the need for regional-level initiatives through inter-state and inter-city coordination, in addition to multi-sectorial synchronisation," a government official said.

It was here that the concept of air shed (on the lines of water shed) was first officially introduced in the government nomenclature as part of last year's ordinance. The Bill also envisages the same approach.

It was considered necessary to have a statutory authority with appropriate powers and charged with the duty of taking comprehensive measures to tackle air pollution on a war footing, with power to coordinate with the concerned states and the Central government and issue directions to the statutory authorities established under various laws.

There is a need to evolve and implement a consolidated approach for monitoring, tackling and eliminating the causes of air pollution and identifying, specifying and rigorously enforcing the measures for elimination and mitigation of air pollution, including but not limited to controlling or eliminating the activities of stubble burning, vehicular pollution, industrial emissions, road dust, biomass burning and urban construction.

The government said that it was noticed that there is lack of a permanent, dedicated and participative mechanism adopting a collaborative and participatory approach involving the relevant Central ministries, state governments, local bodies and other stakeholders to tackle air pollution in NCR and its adjoining areas.

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