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    Air quality panel talks farm fires with Punjab

    Synopsis

    This is set to be followed up by city-specific action plans for all major cities and towns in areas adjoining Delhi-NCR. CAQM came up with a 10-point immediate action plan earlier this week.

    Agencies
    The CAQM has also called for ‘strict implementation of extant rules, court and tribunal orders regarding stubble burning and fire crackers’.
    In its first major meeting, the newly instituted Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) discussed stubble fires with the Punjab government.

    This is set to be followed up by city-specific action plans for all major cities and towns in areas adjoining Delhi-NCR. CAQM came up with a 10-point immediate action plan earlier this week.

    ET gathers that amid continuously ‘severe’ air quality in the NCR, the commission first and foremost dialed the Punjab government late last week over the spike in stubble fires— as borne out by satellite imagery.

    The state machinery was asked to explore stubble-fire mitigation measures in light of the poor air quality in the entire belt. Efforts towards the same have also been reported to the commission by the Punjab government, it is learnt.

    The contribution of stubble fire to air pollution in NCR is considerably high from September-end onwards and has become a major concern.

    The Centre has set up the commission through an Ordinance route to coordinate, implement and monitor anti- air pollution action in the entire ‘air shed’ of Delhi-NCR. The panel has lined up meetings with all stakeholder states—Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan—through the next week.

    ET has learnt that the commission is set to ask all these states to draw up detailed and city-specific action plans to counter air pollution, just like it has been done in Delhi.

    “The idea is to have clearly laid out action plans against air pollution in a systemic and well-thought-out manner. These plans will be in three time-frames—short-term, medium term and long-term measures. The commission is mandated to address the problem of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR air shed region in a holistic manner and this is one of the first and most important of steps for the same,” a senior functionary of the commission confirmed to ET.

    Starting with its first meeting on November 9, the commission has also identified ten ‘major immediate measures’ to be undertaken to address the ongoing air quality crisis.

    It has already shot off asked the chief secretaries of the stakeholder states to take ‘immediate follow up action’ . In the November 10 communication, the CAQM has pointed to the need to ‘strictly enforce’ all existing rules and standard operating procedures to ‘minimise air pollution on an emergency basis’.

    All the four stakeholder states and the Delhi government will soon be issuing advisories on the same.

    These 10 measures include minimisation of personal transport, encouraging essential travel only and work from home. Strict enforcement of dust-control measures, including at construction sites, intensified water sprinkling in dustprone areas and use of anti-smog guns at pollution hot spots.

    All parties and agencies have been asked to ensure strict enforcement to prevent burning of municipal solid waste and biomass and industries using coal are to be asked to minimize coal usage in the coming months in view of the air situation.

    The CAQM has also called for ‘strict implementation of extant rules, court and tribunal orders regarding stubble burning and fire crackers’.
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