‘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).

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