Air Pollution In Delhi-NCR: Principal Secretary To Prime Minister Chairs High-Level Task Force Meeting


Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, P K Mishra, chaired a high-level task force meeting on air pollution in Delhi-NCR (National Capital Region) at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Friday (13 October).

The meeting was held to review the preparedness of various stakeholders to deal with the issue of adverse air quality in Delhi-NCR as the winter season approaches.

During the meeting, the Principal Secretary discussed in detail about various measures being taken to reduce the impact of different sources of air pollution, including industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, dust from construction and demolition activities, dust from roads, burning of municipal solid waste, biomass and miscellaneous waste, and agricultural stubble burning.

Greening and plantation initiatives to abate air pollution were also deliberated in the meeting.

The high-ranking official also discussed the implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), its monitoring and measures to improve its enforcement at field level.

He said strict implementation of the actions listed in the GRAP by all concerned is critical to prevent the worsening of air quality.

M M Kutty, Chairman, Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), informed that industries in the NCR are being shifted to cleaner fuels, and out of 240 industrial areas, as many as 211 have already been provided CNG connection.

Similarly, out of 7,759 fuel-based industries, as many as 7,449 have shifted to PNG or approved fuels.

The CAQM Chairman also briefed that there has been an increase in e-vehicles and, presently, 412,393 e-vehicles are registered in the NCR. The number of e-buses and battery charging stations has also increased, and now there are 4,793 EV charging points in Delhi.

As for construction and demolition waste management, the CAQM informed that five waste processing facilities with the capacity of 5,150 tonnes per day (TPD) are operationalised and one more facility with 1,000 TPD capacity is in the pipeline in Delhi.

Whereas in Haryana, a facility with 600 TPD capacity is operational and 700 TPD is in the pipeline, in Uttar Pradesh, 1,300 TPD is operational and two facilities are in the pipeline.

All the states were requested to augment construction and demolition waste processing capacities.

In an effort to ensure reduction of the paddy stubble burning across Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, Principal Secretary to the PM instructed close monitoring of the issue by the Chief Secretaries of the three states.

He advised the in-situ management of paddy stubble through crop residue management machines and the use of bio-decomposers.

He also advised the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) to improve the technology.

Elaborating on ex-situ management of paddy stubble, he advised working on developing the economic use of paddy straw.

He stressed on developing adequate storage facilities for baled straw along with infrastructure for baling, briquetting, and pelleting for effective ex-situ use of paddy straw.

Further, strict adherence to the stipulated targets for co-firing of biomass, with focus on paddy straw, in the thermal power plants biomass was also discussed.

During the discussion, the Principal Secretary emphasised a multi-pronged approach comprising several measures, such as procurement of biomass pellets, adopting the benchmark price issued by the Ministry of Power, expanding gas infrastructure and supply in the entire NCR region by March 2024, and ensuring expeditious supply of biomass on demand.

Further, there should be intensified drives to replace overaged vehicles, vehicles which are visibly polluting because of overloading and other reasons, and stricter implementation of actions envisaged in the GRAP by all concerned.