Millennium Post

Air pollution finds mention in FM's speech

NEW DELHI: The Delhiites have a good news this year as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said a special scheme will be executed with Delhi government and adjoining states to address the rising air pollution in the Capital. Presenting the Union Budget 2018-19, the minister also said steps will be taken to subsidise the machinery required for management of crop residue.
"A special scheme will be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidise machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue," he said.
Unveiling the last full-year budget of the current BJP-led government in Parliament, he said air pollution in Delhi- NCR region has been a cause of concern. The Economic Survey had suggested heavy penalties for burning agricultural waste, and more incentives for farmers to prevent alarmingly poor air quality in Delhi-NCR and adjoining areas.
While the NGT has rapped the state and central governments for stubble burning, the farmers are saying that machinery to manage the stubble is very expensive. Punjab government demanded a package of Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre to incentivise its farmers with stubble management. Punjab's Science and Technology Department has suggested managing the remaining 15.40 million tonnes per year of paddy residue through crop diversification, straw management equipment and industrial use. But all these steps require significant investment. The Finance minister's reference was however only limited to NCR, even as a recent report disclosed that at least 47 million children under the age of five live in areas facing severe air pollution with dangerous effluent density.
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