Getting pricey: The upward trend of LPG prices over several years has put cooking gas, and clean indoor air, out of the reach of millions of Indians | Photo: Livelaw

Indoor air pollution: ‘Only 50% urban slum households use LPG’, refill cost jumped ₹ 125 in a month

In a major setback to initiatives aiming to curb indoor air pollution, a new survey revealed that 86% of households in urban slums across six Indian states have liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) connections, but only about 50% use them. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) survey found that 16% of the households in the sample states used firewood, dung cakes, charcoal and kerosene to cook. The six Indian states included Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which account for nearly a quarter of India’s urban slum population.

The government informed the Parliament that the price of a household cooking gas (LPG) refill has doubled in the past seven years and subsidy has vanished over the years. Tax from petrol and diesel has also risen four-and-a-half times during this period. 

According to the government, an LPG refill in Delhi costs ₹410.50 per cylinder on March 1, 2014, and has risen to ₹819 this month. The prices vary with state taxes. In the past one month alone, the LPG refill price jumped by ₹125 per cylinder.

Parliamentary panel: There’s lack of air quality data in smaller cities

A parliamentary panel report stated that the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) can be effectively implemented only by strengthening capacities at the municipal level. Also, the panel acknowledged the lack of quality data on air pollution in smaller cities and towns. The panel suggested that the grants for installation of systems to monitor air quality, as recommended by the 15th finance commission, must be prioritised in smaller cities and towns.

For example, Guwahati received ₹20 lakh in funds in 2019-20 under the NCAP; but it costs ₹1.2 crore to install one air quality monitor. The panel insisted upon the need for transparency in information relating to expenditure of ‘Control of Pollution’ scheme, progress of NCAP, and functioning of pollution control boards.

The ‘Control of Pollution’ scheme of the Union Ministry of Forests and Climate Change will have to be implemented through various central and state government agencies, the Parliamentary panel said.

Pollution increased in half of Maharashtra cities included in National Clean Air programme  

Air pollution increased in half of the 18 cities of Maharashtra that are included under the National Clean Air Plan in 2019 compared to the levels recorded in 2017. The main pollutant, PM 10, increased in nine cities, including Aurangabad, Chandrapur, Jalna, Kolhapur, Latur, Nagpur, Mumbai, Pune and Thane, according to a report by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). 

The report stated that Nagpur and Thane recorded an 18% and 17% increase respectively in PM 10 levels between 2017 and 2019, while Mumbai’s PM10 annual average remained the same at 125µg/m3 for both the years. The standard annual limit for Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), or PM 10, concentration is 60 µg/m3.

Centre allows resumption of diesel generators in NCR, Delhi slaps fine for dust pollution

Centre has allowed the resumption of use and sale of diesel power generators banned in Delhi-NCR under the graded action plan.  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) lifted the ban predicting better air quality days this summer. 

According to the Delhi environment department report, 23,663 notices were issued for causing air pollution during peak season of winter. The state government also issued 2,66,829 challans for vehicular pollution.

The Delhi government collected ₹52 lakh in fines from sites that have not been following norms of demolition and construction. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) inspected 447 construction and demolition sites between December and January in the Capital, of which 106 were found violating dust control measures. Work at 44 sites has been put on hold until all dust control measures are put in place.

The DPCC had released norms for small and large construction sites to control suspension of dust. The guidelines recommend measures, including keeping building materials covered, paving vehicle tracks and working the area with concrete, DTE reported. 

Automakers to offer 5% rebate on new cars if buyers junk their old car

Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said if people will junk their old car and buy a new one under the Vehicle Scrapping Policy, they will get about a 5% rebate from automakers on the new purchase. As per the country’s voluntary vehicle scrapping policy announced in the Union Budget for 2021-22, personal vehicles require a fitness certificate after 20 years, while commercial vehicles would require it after 15 years. 

The minister said it would lead to a 30% boost to the Indian automobile industry turnover to ₹10 lakh crore in the years to come from the present about ₹4.5 lakh crore. Gadkari said initially about one crore polluting vehicles would go for scrapping. Of this, an estimated 51 lakh will be light motor vehicles that are above 20 years of age and another 34 lakh LMVs that are above 15 years. It would also cover 17 lakh medium and heavy motor vehicles, which are above 15 years and currently without valid fitness certificates, he said.

The UK violated pollution limits ’systematically’, EU court rules

The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled that the UK has “systematically and persistently” broken legal limits on air pollution for a decade. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, mostly from diesel vehicles, remain illegally high in 75% of urban areas, the court ruled, saying that the UK had failed to end pollution in the shortest possible time, as required by law.

The case was filed before the UK left the EU, but the country could face fines if it fails to comply. The court also ordered the UK to pay the legal costs incurred by the European Commission.

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