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Convert all public transport to CNG, ban firecrackers: Delhi tells NCR states

Convert all public transport to CNG, ban firecrackers: Delhi tells NCR states
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New Delhi: Ahead of the winter months, when air pollution chokes the National Capital Region, the Delhi government on Thursday suggested to neighbouring states that they ensure all public transport in the NCR is CNG-based and that they too follow suit and ban firecrackers, as the Delhi government had done.

The suggestions came at a joint meeting with states organised by Union Environment minister Bhupender Yadav, to prepare an action plan that all states and UT and can work on to tackle air pollution. At the meeting, Delhi's Environment minister said that NCR states need to fully commit to reducing sources of air pollution and that half-measures would not do the job.

Rai said that some states are only planning to distribute bio-decomposer capsules to farmers and that this would not let work get off the ground as the state governments would need to take the responsibility of making the bio-decomposer solution and spraying it in the fields.

In addition to explaining how financial incentives to farmers, such as the one introduced by the Haryana government, to prevent stubble burning are way more expensive than spraying the solution in the fields, Rai said the Delhi government was currently spending Rs 1,000 per acre for manufacturing and spraying the solution.

However, more importantly, Delhi's Environment minister urged the Centre and the state governments in the NCR to convert all public transport into CNG as done by the Delhi government and also ban firecrackers in their respective jurisdictions.

Rai argued that while Delhi had gone ahead to ban firecrackers, the effects of it will not show unless surrounding areas ban them as well "as people will buy from other states".

He also said that the states need to convert industrial units into ones run on PNG, as Delhi had; use newer technology to control emissions from diesel generators and institute on-ground field teams to monitor emissions in NCR cities.

Rai said: "Delhi has stopped using thermal power plants run on coal.

However, in surrounding states neither are those being stopped or newer techniques being used. The states bypass our requests. All they do is pay the penalty each year and move on. This is not the solution. These are one of the greatest hazards to air pollution."

He added that the issue of brick kilns in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh has also been brought up repeatedly, but both states insist on letting them run in a "zigzag" manner despite too few units running in this manner.

Moreover, Rai said the Delhi government had put forth three more proposals for neighbouring states to follow to reduce air pollution, which include implementing an Electric Vehicle Policy, which has been suggested by the Centre's Committee on Air Quality Management in NCR as well, putting in place a tree transplantation policy, and a targetted behaviour campaign urging people to switch off their vehicle engines every time they are at a red light.

Along with the Union Environment minister Bhupendra Yadav, MM Kutty, Chairman Commission for Air Quality Management joined the meeting. The Environment ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan and the Chief Secretary of Punjab were present in the meeting.

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