Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today flagged off 50 inspection teams of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for field visits in Delhi-NCR to keep a watch on pollution hot spots during the winter season and urged the Punjab government to curb stubble burning.
He said stubble burning, however, is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
"Only 4 per cent pollution is due to stubble burning. Ninety-six per cent of it is due to local factors like biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities, etc.," he told reporters at his residence in Delhi.
Mr Javadekar said his throat choked with the smoke from burning of crop residue during a recent visit to Ludhiana.
"I appeal to the Punjab government to swing into action and curb stubble burning. I went to attend a programme in Ludhiana last year. On my way back, my throat choked due to the smoke from stubble burning even when I was in an air-conditioned car. It is harmful for everyone, including people living there. The Punjab government should ensure there is not much stubble burning this time," the minister said.
Addressing the nodal officers of the CPCB teams, he said, "You will work for next two months and take note of all activities and complaints. You will inspect all factors. You have the right to file a report on your observations and strict action will be taken."
He said, "The way corona warriors are appreciated, you (CPCB officials) all are warriors fighting pollution and we highly appreciate you. We will meet after two months."
The minister said that while on one hand there is stubble burning, on the other there is garbage being burnt by public and "even by karamchaaris".
"We have to keep a watch on that too," he said.
Mr Javadekar urged people to avoid congested routes and opt for other routes even if they are longer.
"I appeal to people to not go to already congested areas and take longer routes. Use cycles for nearby work," he said.
The 50 CPCB teams will make extensive field visits from October 15 to February 28 next year and focus on hot spots where air pollution is aggravated, the environment ministry said.
They will visit Delhi and NCR towns Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut in Uttar Pradesh; Gurugram, Faridabad, Ballabgarh, Jhajjar, Panipat, Sonepat in Haryana; and Bhiwadi, Alwar, Bharatpur in Rajasthan.
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