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Pollution control measures not even a drop in the ocean: Kumar

New Delhi: The measures taken to address the “grave” pollution situation in the national capital “is not even a drop in the ocean” and the primary responsibility for ensuring a national initiative to address the challenge lies with the central government, a former chairman of the parliamentary panel on environment said today.

With Delhi facing with alarming pollution situation, Ashwani Kumar, the former chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology and Environment, said the country is sitting on a “environmental volcano about to burst”.

“Considering what is required to be done in Delhi, the measures taken is not even a drop in the ocean. It is true that the part of the problem is related to stubble burning in neighbouring states. But that is just part of the problem,” he said.

Kumar said the government’s reported decision to ask a former bureaucrat to make amendments to environment protection laws to incorporate suggestions of a former committee which tried to dilute them is an act of “gross insensitivity and negation of Parliamentary Convention”.

He said that the pollution challenge must be tackled rising above partisan consideration and in accordance with established principle of climate justice.

“Considering the grave environmental situation in the entire country, particularly in the national capital, the reported decision of the government to ask the former legislative secretary to suggest amendments in the environment protection laws to incorporate the suggestions of the TSR Subramanian committee, intended to dilute the laws, is an act of gross insensitivity and negation of Parliamentary convention.

“This is so because the standing committee of Parliament has in a unanimous report junked the TSR committee recommendations and has asked for further tightening of environmental laws in order to meet the grave challenges that the nation faces,” he said.

The government had two years back formed a high-level committee under former cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian to review and suggest amendments to India’s major green laws.

“We are sitting on a environmental volcano about to burst. The current environmental situation in reference to healthy environmental norm tells its own story and the pollution challenge must be tackled above rising above partisan consideration and in accordance to established principle of climate justice.

“We can ill-afford partisan approach to an issue as sensitive as environment which will not only have economic cost but also have a huge social cost. It is strange that this is happening under the nose of present environment minister who was a member of the standing committee that unanimously argued for tightening of environmental laws,” Kumar said.

Commenting about the high levels of pollution in Delhi, Kumar said that although stubble burning is only a part of the problem, the government has not taken steps to control the dust pollution which is going in the air.

He asked what has been done to ensure that the dust particles arising out of construction activities do not go up in the air?

He said how many trucks carrying debris and muds are covered completely?

“This challenge needs to be addressed at multiple levels, which necessarily involves a broad national political consensus as also harmony of action between the centre and the state. It cant be done with any one instrumentality at all.

“The primary responsibility for ensuring a national initiative to address the environment challenge lies with the central government as it is only the central government which can coordinate with states. Environmental laws are all central legislations and central government has the right of superintendence, supervision and enforcement of environmental laws,” he said.

After meeting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave had yesterday termed the situation as an “emergency” situation.

The Centre has also called for a meeting with environment ministers of NCR states to tackle the pollution problem in Delhi.

Green experts have said that the national capital is facing the worst smog in 17 years, and has asked Delhi government to issue health alerts and convey that children should stay indoors as there is a state of health emergency due to peaking air pollution.

PTI