‘Good eco policies make for good politics’
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New Delhi: Delhi government will soon form a special task force to supervise the implementation of the clean air declaration signed at the C40 climate summit in Denmark. Making the announcement while addressing a press conference along with the mayors of other world cities through video conferencing on Friday, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said he would chair the task force, comprising ministers and officers of various departments, which would regularly monitor the action plan to curb pollution levels in the capital.
“We will together monitor Delhi’s progress in meeting our goals to make the capital city’s air clean,” Kejriwal said in his address to the world press gathered in Copenhagen.
The C40 summit network connects more than 90 world cities in taking bold initiatives to reduce pollution levels and build a healthier future. Kejriwal was supposed to have attended the C40 World Mayors’ Summit in the Danish capital, but was denied permission to travel there by the ministry of external affairs.
“I wanted to be there personally but could not do so because of unavoidable circumstances,” Kejriwal said, while speaking over video link to the press, which was also addressed by the mayors of Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Los Angles and Lima. They spelt out the initiatives taken by their respective administrations to reduce air pollution levels in their cities.
The Delhi chief minister talked about the various efforts made by his government, including implementation of the odd-even road scheme restricting certain cars on the streets on alternate days to ensure better air quality in the Indian capital. “Delhi was struggling with high pollution, but it has gone down by 25% over the past three years,” Kejriwal said.
Addressing one of the sessions, ‘Breathe Deeply’, at the summit on video, the Aam Aadmi Party convenor said that there was an urgent need to introduce and implement concrete steps to tackle the climate crisis prevalent across the globe. He also appreciated the role Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg had played in galvanising the world on the issue of climate change. “Greta has united people all over the world. Young people from around the world are coming out in her support and the cause she has espoused,” the CM said.
Kejriwal also gave a detailed account of the odd-even road rationing scheme implemented twice by Delhi government, pointing out that the citizens of Delhi had been very supportive of the move. “People are ready for more concrete steps,” he added. “If we take concrete steps, explaining them to the people and taking them along, they will certainly support us. I am saying this based on the phenomenal support Greta Thunberg is receiving as well as through personal experience. I believe that good environmental policies also make for good politics.”
He also discussed the restrictions placed on diesel vehicles and the measures taken to control dust pollution at construction sites. “We have shut down all our coalbased thermal power plants and carried out massive afforestation programmes across the city,” he said. New Delhi: While chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was denied permission to attend the C40 World Mayors Summit in Denmark, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit was part of the summit in 2007 and it was her most expensive trip ever, information accessed through the Right to Information (RTI) Act has shown.
Dikshit went to C40 summit in New York in 2007 between May 14 and 17, and the trip cost Rs 7,49,995, the RTI report said.
In her three terms as chief minister, Dikshit went on 25 foreign trips, while Kejriwal till December 2018 has only gone on three of them.
While Kejriwal’s two trips to Rome in Italy (2016) and Seoul in South Korea (2018) were official, one was personal and its expenditure was borne by the chief minister himself. His trip to Rome cost over Rs 6.5 lakh and to Seoul was about Rs 3.5 lakh.
The ministry of external affairs on Wednesday denied Kejriwal permission to visit Denmark for the summit in Copenhagen. Union minister Prakash Javadekar said it was a “mayor-level” conference.
Before the current summit, the C40 had convened six Mayors Summits, hosted by London (2005), New York (2007), Seoul (2009), Sao Paulo (2011), Johannesburg (2014) and Mexico City (2016).