In­dia’s anti-pol­lu­tion pro­gramme launched

Viet Nam News - - ASIA -

NEW DELHI — In­dia has launched a pro­gramme to rein in dan­ger­ous pol­lu­tion lev­els in more than a hun­dred cities that the gov­ern­ment said it ex­pected to im­prove air qual­ity sig­nif­i­cantly.

But the plan drew im­me­di­ate crit­i­cism from en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, who said it lacked a clear frame­work to tackle tox­i­c­ity lev­els that have led to mil­lions of deaths.

In­dia is home to the world’s 14 most pol­luted cities, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion. Toxic air claimed 1.24 mil­lion lives there in 2017, a study in Lancet Plan­e­tary Health showed last month.

The Na­tional Clean Air Pro­gramme (NCAP) aims to cut pol­lu­tion in the 102 worst af­fected cities by 20-30 per cent by 2024.

Launch­ing it, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Harsh Vard­han said he be­lieved it would sub­stan­tially im­prove air qual­ity. “We need to en­sure that we give clean air to our chil­dren and the gen­er­a­tions to come,” he told a news con­fer­ence.

The plan aims to push through cuts in in­dus­trial emis­sions and ve­hic­u­lar ex­haust fumes, in­tro­duce strin­gent rules for trans­port fu­els and biomass burn­ing and re­duce dust pol­lu­tion.

It will also up­grade and in­crease mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems.

Its launch, put back from last year due to bu­reau­cratic de­lays, co­in­cides with the an­nual peak of pol­lu­tion lev­els in north­ern In­dia, in­clud­ing New Delhi.

Since Oc­to­ber res­i­dents of the cap­i­tal, home to more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple, have strug­gled to breathe un­der a thick smog.

Last week, pol­lu­tion surged to “emer­gency” lev­els, as the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board’s air qual­ity in­dex of poi­sonous par­tic­u­late mat­ter hit 440, more than 12 times the US gov­ern­ment’s rec­om­mended limit.

Su­nil Dahiya, se­nior cam­paigner with en­vi­ron­men­tal group Green­peace, wel­comed the launch of the pro­gramme but said it lacked fo­cus and am­bi­tion.

“We hoped that the NCAL would be much stronger, would pro­vide sec­tor-wise tar­gets, spe­cific tar­gets for the cities and men­tion a strong le­gal back­ing to take ac­tion against non-im­ple­men­ta­tion,” he said.

As pol­lu­tion spiked in New Delhi in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber, the gov­ern­ment adopted mea­sures rang­ing from a tem­po­rary ban on con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and garbage burn­ing to a clam­p­down on coal-fired power sta­tions. — REUTERS

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