- February 7, 2018
AIR POLLUTION: India falls to rock bottom on air pollution index, ‘govt backing’, or battling polluting industry? Economic Survey shows way to clean air
Environment Performing Index: India falls to 178, China at 120
India fell 36 ranks (since 2016), to a shocking 177th (of 180) in overall Environment Performing Index (EPI) released by Yale and Columbia Universities and World Economic Forum. In air pollution category India was a notch down at 178th rank. Calculations were based on country’s environmental health policy and deaths due to air pollution. China ranked 120. “Coal, crop residue burning, and emissions from motor vehicles continue to severely degrade the air quality,” the report said.
Budget 2018: Special scheme to tackle Delhi’s air pollution
Acknowledging Delhi NCR’s air pollution crisis as a “cause of concern”, a special scheme was declared in the Union Budget to subsidize machinery in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that is needed to effectively manage agricultural stubble. The announcement follows the Economic survey’s suggestion to penalize farmers in North India for burning stubble, which is held responsible for NCR’s toxic particulate matter concentrations.
Air Pollution is not Delhi-centric, ‘it’s a regional issue’
A week after The Supreme Court rapped government over ignoring country-wide air pollution issue, Centre drew praise for tackling air pollution in Delhi. The plan includes 50%-75% subsidy to farmers to purchase machines Happy Seeder and Rotavators, for in-situ management of paddy residue. But experts say, air pollution is not Delhi-centric, but a regional issue and regions like Singrauli and Ghaziabad also need ‘urgent attention’ where Centre has just one monitoring station on the MP side of Singrauli, while none on the highly polluted UP side.
Turn crop stubble into biofuels to fight pollution
Turn agricultural waste into usable fodder or biofuels, to tackle the polluting crop burning issue, that’s the suggestion by Economic Survey.
The survey also blamed vehicular emissions and construction activity for high pollution levels in NCR. It recommended ‘congestion pricing’ for vehicles, expanding public bus system, and phasing out of old vehicles, and accelerating Bharat Stage VI (BS VI) emissions norms.
Air Pollution: ‘Free cylinder’ Ujjwala plan effective?
The 2018 Budget’s Ujjwala scheme increased the ‘free LPG’ cooking gas connections from 5 crore to 8 crore rural women in an attempt to curb air pollution. But, Economic Survey says only 79% cooking gas users refill the cylinder, Down To Earth found that the majority of beneficiaries were not refilling the cylinder, while Petroleum and Natural Gas minister, said only 60% refill the cylinder.
Experts say government’s claim of a free connection is not true. Beneficiaries are charged Rs 1,600 and if they are not able to pay, they are given a loan amount by petroleum companies which is deducted when the user get subsidy on refilling the cylinder.