New Delhi, Nov 20 A parliamentary panel meeting on combating air pollution in Delhi-NCR area, which was originally scheduled for last week but got cancelled because of the absence of key officials, was held at the Parliament committee room on Wednesday.
Chaired by Jagdambika Pal, BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh, the meeting went on for a record two-and-a-half hours. It was attended by 23 MPs, including BJP’s Gautam Gambhir, Hema Malini and M.J. Akbar, Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress’ Digvijaya Singh, among others.
According to sources, Union Urban Development Secretary D.S. Mishra informed the committee that a sum of Rs 300 crore has been approved by the Centre and Rs 146 crore has been released to various municipal corporations in Delhi to take measures to bring down the rising pollution levels.
Sources said the Urban Development Ministry is coordinating with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs), Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Environment Ministry to put a check on the rising Air Quality Index (AQI), which shot up to the ‘severe plus’ category in November.
Several initiatives have been taken, including quick disposal of solid waste and garbage in Delhi NCR, the committee was told.
A separate presentation was made by the Urban Development Ministry on better air quality in the national capital, which revealed that in the last fortnight, several measures have been undertaken by the officials to bring the situation under control.
The Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, also gave a presentation, sources said.
The MPs, including Jagdambika Pal, told the officials that if China could bring down the pollution levels in Beijing to a normal range, why India can’t find a way out to bring air pollution under control in the national capital.
The committee has tasked the officials of various key departments to come up with a final report to ensure better air quality in Delhi,
The sources said Jagdambika Pal would soon call another meeting of officials to prepare a final report on tackling Delhi’s acute pollution crisis.
The AQI in Delhi remained in the ‘very poor’ category on Wednesday and is expected to worsen in the next few days, primarily due to low wind speed.