Proposals From 5 Govt Depts To Help Prepare Action PlanAmbika.Pandit@timesgroup.com
New Delhi: With alarmingly high pollution levels in the capital raising serious health concerns, the Aam Aadmi Party government has decided to come up with a multi-department action plan in the 2018-19 Delhi Budget, to be presented in March. Discussions around what is being projected as Delhi’s first “green budget” started last week and, by mid-February, the government plans to finalise proposals that will form a part of an action plan to be implemented in the new financial year.
Through this action plan, the government is aiming for a “visible impact” over the next two years, sources say, adding that the government feels that air pollution in Delhi has reached crisis levels. Officials cite several scientific studies that show high exposure to particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide can cause lasting health damage and lead to increased mortality.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia who holds charge of the department of finance sees the 2018-19 budget as an opportunity to strengthen the government’s efforts to combat air pollution by “bringing out a special package, together with a comprehensive action plan”. This plan will involve five departments — environment, transport, industries, energy and the Public Works Department. “By doing so, it will become Delhi’s first green budget,” Sisodia has said in a note issued to the departments concerned.
Department-level discussions for shortlisting the proposals started on February 2 and will go on till February
14. A budget meeting will be held on February 15 to discuss and shortlist proposals from each department for inclusion in the “green budget” and these will be finalised between February 16 and
17. Each proposal will lay down “objectives, timeframe for implementation, proposed outlay, potential impact on pollution and possible difficulties in implementation”. Officials have been asked to dwell on revenue generation possibilities to meet the expenses of the ambitious plan.
“Scientific studies on the effects of air pollution on children in Delhi conclude with certainty that, for many, their health will be compromised for the rest of their lives,” the note from the deputy CM’s office to ministers and department heads states. It cites an extensive three-year study that was published in 2010. Conducted by the Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute in conjunction with WHO, researchers found that key indicators of respiratory health, lung function and blood pressure in children in Delhi between four and 17 years of age were far worse than those of children elsewhere. The report concluded that about half of the 4.4 million children who reside in Delhi already have irreversible lung damage. A list of six other studies is also given in the note for reference and study.
The note points out that faced with similar challenges of severe air pollution, many cities globally have brought out coordinated action plans and taken up a systematic fight against the menace.
The heads of these departments and the respective ministers have been directed to come up with a range of interventions that can be implemented over the next two years to combat the problem. Officials have also been directed to conduct a “careful study” of various reports and recommendations made over the last 2-3 years by experts and national and international organisations to address the problem.