Public Consultations for Winter Pollution Action Plan
Delhi sees the worst days of pollution every winter, even as the Delhi Government has been taking several steps over the years to curtail various local sources of pollution. An independent study carried out by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) revealed that air pollution in Delhi had come down substantially by 25% in the three years 2016- 18 as compared to the baseline of 2012-14.
Recognizing the need to continuously kind new and innovative ways to fight pollution, in September 2019, Hon'ble Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made a unique appeal to the people of Delhi to send in their suggestions/ recommendations over email (email@example.com) and Whatsapp regarding measures that can be taken to reduce pollution in Delhi during the winter months.
Within a week, several thousand suggestions were received. The Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC) was made the nodal agency for analysing the suggestions and putting together a coherent plan of action.
Ten key recommendations emerged from DDC's analysis:
1. Measures to Regulate Crop Stubble Burning:
The maximum suggestions received were regarding the problem of crop-stubble burning, especially in the states of Punjab and Haryana. A significant number of people suggested that regulations need to be in place to monitor and curb the excessive pollution, while others recommended the Delhi Government work in collaboration with these two states to find lasting solutions. Suggestions were also made requesting the neighbouring states to encourage their farmers to recycle the stubble for other purposes like the manufacture of manure, household goods etc.
2. Green Community-focused on Diwali:
Citizens were of the opinion that the bursting of crackers during Diwali is a major cause of the rise in pollution levels in the state. The Government thus needs to run awareness campaigns to make people aware of the ill effects of the smoke emitted by the bursting of crackers
3. Air Pollution Masks:
As Delhi faces recurrent smog every year in the season of October to December, a number of people have suggested the distribution of free masks by the Government or the sale of the same at subsidised rates.
4. Reinstatement of the Odd-Even Policy and Encouraging Carpooling:
Citizens expressed their support for re-introducing the Odd-Even Policy wherein cars with odd number and even number plates would ply the roads on alternate days. Commercial vehicles, however, would not fall under the purview of this policy.
5. Regulation on Burning of Garbage, Dry Leaves and Plastic:
Open burning of garbage, dry leaves and plastics is a major cause of smoke emission particularly in the winter months. Citizens suggested running awareness campaigns on the ill effects of such activities also should levy heavy fines on people who do the same. A number of people have also suggested that the Government ensure that MCD is made more responsible for garbage dumping and solid waste management.
6. Regulation of PUC Centers and Electric Vehicle Subsidy:
A significant number of people commented on the regulation of the PUC Centers in the state with regular checks being made compulsory. The government in addition could also encourage Electric Vehicles by providing subsidies on the same. All new procurement of buses by DTC should be E-Buses.
7. Installation of Air Purifiers:
A number of people are of the opinion that the installation of air purifiers using the Chinese model could help curb air pollution. The Delhi Government could follow the example of China and install multiple air purifying machines like 'Vayu' across the perimeter of the state.
8. Mechanised Sweeping & Artificial Rain:
Mechanised sweeping should be carried out all over the state to curb the same. Artificial rains could be induced if dust levels rise significantly.
9. Plantation Drives and Vertical Gardens in Public Spaces and Buildings:
Many citizens recommended the implementation of tree plantation drives, which would not only aid in making the city greener but also help in curbing pollution levels. Campaigns like 'One House, One Sapling' could also be carried out with the Government distributing free saplings to RWAs to encourage people in having terrace gardens.
10. Strengthening the Legal System for Regulation of Construction Sites:
People suggested strengthening the legal system is needed for the regulation of debris on construction sites. Oftentimes, debris and building materials from construction sites are left uncovered on the sides of the roads which leads to a rise in the dust level.
7-Point Parali Pradushan Action Plan 2019
Many of the citizen recommendations compiled by DDC were eventually incorporated in the 7-point “Parali Pradushan Action Plan” announced by the Hon'ble CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal on September 13 2019, to reduce pollution in Delhi. The plan included the odd-even scheme, free distribution of air pollution masks on a large scale, organising a community Diwali in Delhi with laser shows, deployment of two environment marshalls in each ward to check open burning, increasing dust control measures on roads, implementing local action plans at 12 identified hotspots and launching a tree challenge to urge citizens of Delhi to adopt a tree.
15-Point Winter Action Plan 2022
As per a report released in 2022 by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), the PM10 concentration in Delhi has seen a reduction of 18.6% over the last 4 years (2017-18 to 2021-22).
Ahead of the winter of 2022, DDC assisted the Environment department to prepare a comprehensive Winter Action Plan through a consultative process of several departments and agencies operating in Delhi. The Winter Action Plan integrated 15 initiatives to be undertaken by more than 20 civic agencies in Delhi.
Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri Arvind Kejriwal launched the Winter Action Plan for 2022 on 30 September 2022, comprising the following initiatives:
- Controlling stubble burning through the use of PUSA bio-decomposer
- Controlling dust pollution
- Controlling vehicular pollution
- Ban on open burning
- Controlling industrial pollution
- Ban on firecrackers
- Real-time source apportionment study
- Paryavaran Mitra
- E-waste park
- Increasing greenery
- Green War Room
- Green Delhi mobile app
- Focus on air pollution hotspots
- Implementation of revised GRAP
- Dialogue with the Government of India, CAQM and NCR states.