Guwahati, Thursday, March 08, 2018
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Pollution rises, but authorities in sound sleep
RITURAJ BORTHAKUR
 GUWAHATI, March 7 - Notwithstanding the increasing pollution levels in Guwahati, stakeholders responsible to reduce it still seem to be in deep slumber.

Based on the pollution levels for years between 2011 and 2015, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued directions to states to formulate action plans to reduce air pollution levels across 94 non-attainment cities spread across the country, which included Guwahati.

The action plan continues to be on paper, with the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) officials admitting that the agencies concerned have done little on their part.

These action plans were to be made during 2016 by the State Pollution Control Boards and the direction included specific actions for vehicular emission control, re-suspension of road dust and other fugitive emission control; control of emissions from biomass/crop residue/garbage/municipal waste burning; control of industrial emissions; control of air pollution from construction and demolition activities and other steps to control air pollution.

An NE-level stakeholders meet was convened by CPCB here in August last. Following the meeting, the PCBA formulated an action plan with specific actions for all stakeholders like GMC, Forest department, GMDA, PWD, Transport department, Social Forestry Urban Development department, etc.

“In November-December last, the secretary of the Forest department was asked to convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the action plan. The meeting is yet to take place. The stakeholders also do not respond when meetings are convened at the PCBA,” official sources said.

The PCBA had on December 8 last also written to all the departments underlining the actions to be taken by them to control pollution.

The Transport department was asked to intensify the public transport system to reduce the dependence on private vehicles; the PWD and municipal bodies were asked to prepare plans to widen the roads and decongest them; the Social Forestry department was asked to increase the city’s green cover and plant trees in the vacant spaces; the Forest department was asked to stop the earth-cutting on the hills; the PWD was asked to blacktop the entire road widths, the GMC and Fire Services were asked to clean the roads surfaces regularly and spray water to suppress the dust, while the district administration and GMC was instructed to put in place a proper garbage disposal system. All of these continues to remain on paper, with no visible action on the ground as yet.

According to a recent Greenpeace India report, “Apart from Delhi-NCR where a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has come into force and in Lucknow where the same plan has been copied, no other city seems to be taking any action of any worth against the polluters.”

“None of the plans until now seems to have time-bound targets or specified a percentage for the reduction in air pollution levels in a scheduled manner, say in two, three, or five years under the watch of a competent authority assigned to be responsible for the onerous task,” the report added.

The pollution level in Guwahati has been on a higher side for the last many years, Greenpeace India further noted.

Since 2011, at least 94 Indian cities, including Guwahati, have not met national air quality standards. Many of these cities have been on the list from the 1990s, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

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