Stricter implementation of laws to combat pollution urged

Air pollution cuts average life expectancy in India: Study
People living in the country's most polluted areas could expect to live up to one year longer if pollution met the WHO guideline. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: Expressing alarm over air pollution in the national capital, experts and stakeholders on Sunday stressed stricter enforcement of environmental laws, stronger legal and institutional frameworks and technological capacity of pollution control boards to tackle grave challenges to public health.

Interacting at an event organised by the Jindal School of Government and Public Policy here, experts and senior government officials suggested a fuel substitution policy, quicker transition to BS VI norms, electric charging points across the country for vehicles, regulatory performance index and holding authorities accountable, spreading awareness, community kilns, green fund among other measures to counter air pollution.

Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev emphasized the need for joint efforts by the government and citizens as well as greater coordination among various agencies.

He suggested a two-pronged strategy that includes fixing accountability of field-level staff responsible for combating pollution along with convergence of efforts made by various stakeholders from policy-making to implementation level.

Bhure Lal, Chairman, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, pointed to the socio-economic dimensions of pollution, saying "our pollution levels need to be reduced drastically, almost by 70 per cent to enable us to lead a clean and healthy life."

Founding Chancellor of OP Jindal Global University, Naveen Jindal, said the ill-effects of air pollution can reduce life span by ten years and recommended citizens' active participation along with government measures.

Delivering the key note address, Former National Green Tribunal Chairperson, Justice Swatanter Kumar, said unauthorised colonies were a major challenge to sanitation and waste treatment.

"This adds to the overall crisis of environmental degradation. The government cannot act in isolation and needs people's support. Academia is the best source of bringing ideas and innovations for the betterment of society."

Vice-Chancellor of the O.P. Jindal Global University, C Raj Kumar said: "We need to highlight the major sources of environmental degradation and come up with effective solutions. We will be partnering with the government, providing intellectual support and come up with effective solutions that can reach the implementation stage".

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