Is India doing enough to control pollution?

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Urban Indians mostly complain about vehicular pollution when they talk about pollution but definitely to keep India clean and green we need to concentrate on other forms of pollution too.

The harmful effects of pollution are common knowledge to all. Let us see if India is doing enough to control pollution.


Vehicular Pollution:

The complaints mostly relate to phasing out of diesel vehicles, price differential between diesel and gasoline fuel, technologies for reducing emissions from diesel vehicles, etc.

In India there are separate sets of emission norms applicable for diesel and gasoline vehicles. Presently, BS - IV emission norms are applicable for 63 cities.

Recently, the Government has finalised leapfrogging to Bharat Stage VI (BS-VI) mass emission norms by 1st April, 2020 and released draft notification on 19th February, 2016 to this effect.

It is estimated that investment requirement for gasoline works out to be about 20,000 crore and for diesel, it is estimated to be 60,000 crore as per Auto-Fuel Vision and Policy - 2025.

This is considered by many experts as an effective way to control vehicular pollution in future.

How are we keeping vehicular pollution in control now?:

  1. The compliance of emission norms for new vehicles are ensured through Type Approval testing of the new vehicles at the certified testing centres.
  2. Once a Type Approval Certificate is issued, then only a particular model of a vehicle is allowed to ply on the roads.
  3. Conformity of Production (CoP) testing is also done on new vehicles to ensure compliance. State/UT Governments are responsible for implementation of notified emission norms.
  4. The compliance of emission from in-use vehicles is done through Pollution Under Control Testing (PUC) carried out at the PUC centres authorised by State Transport Departments. Possession of a valid PUC certificate is a requirement for a vehicle to ply on roads.

Water pollution:

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in association with State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) or Pollution Control Committees (PPCs) is monitoring the quality of water bodies at 2500 locations across the country under National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWQMP). The results indicate that organic pollution is the predominant cause of water pollution.

Based on the magnitude of organic pollution, CPCB in 2008 had identified 150 polluted river stretches which increased to 302 in 2015. The rivers stretches are polluted mainly due to discharge of untreated or partially treated sewage and discharge of industrial wastewater.

CPCB assessed that the total volume of municipal wastewater generation in the country at about 61,948 MLD as against the installed sewage treatment capacity of 23,277 MLD leaving a wide gap of more than 38,671 MLD. Similar observations were made by WHO in its reports on water pollution.

Here are some steps taken to address the issue of water pollution:

  1. Preparation of action plan for sewage management and restoration of water quality in aquatic resources by State Governments;
  2. Installation of Online Effluent Monitoring System to check the discharge of effluent directly into the rivers and water bodies;
  3. Setting up of monitoring network for assessment of water quality;
  4. Action to comply with effluent standards is taken by SPCBs / PCCs to improve the water quality of the rivers;
  5. Financial assistance for installation of Common Effluent Treatment Plants for cluster of Small Scale Industrial units;
  6. Issuance of directions for implementation of Zero Liquid Discharge. 

Air pollution:

The Government has notified National Ambient Air Quality Standards envisaging 12 pollutants to control air pollution under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. These norms have been formulated to adopt uniform methodology for measurement of air pollutants with the help of network of 612 monitoring stations set up across the country.

The steps taken by the Government to mitigate air pollution in cities in the country include the following:

  1. Notification of National Ambient Air Quality Standards envisaging 12 pollutants and setting up of monitoring network for assessment of ambient air quality;
  2. Introduction of cleaner / alternate fuels like gaseous fuel, ethanol blend etc. replacing petrol and diesel;
  3. Comprehensive review of all Waste Management Rules including Municipal Solid Waste, Plastic Waste, Hazardous Waste, Bio-medical Waste and Electronic Waste;
  4. Ban on burning of leaves, biomass, and municipal solid waste;
  5. Promotion of public transport network of metro, buses, e-rickshaws and promotion of car-pooling, Pollution Under Control, lane discipline, vehicle maintenance;
  6. Installation of on-line continuous (24x7) monitoring devices by major industries.

Will these measures prove sufficient to mitigate climate changes only time can tell.

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