HIGHLIGHTSOn the eve of World Environment Day, Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan tells Vishwa Mohan in an interview that his government would tackle air pollution across the country in a time-bound manner. Excerpts:
Your ministry’s proposed National Clean Air Programme has dropped the time-bound target it had set earlier (reduce 35% of pollution within three years and 50% in the next five years). How will progress be measured now?
We will have a target. We shall not curb our ambition. Since October 2017 (when air quality in Delhi suffered), a lot of measures have been taken to address air pollutionin the Capital. As a result of all such steps, there has been an improvement in air quality in Delhi in 2017 compared to 2016.
What is the Centre doing to bring all states on board to control the plastic waste menace?
The issue was deliberated in the state environment ministers’ conference (on Monday) and workable solutions which can be replicated on a large scale were discussed. A new scheme for management of waste has been formulated where innovative ideas will be funded.
How would Centre ensure enforcement of rules in states for disposing of all other kinds of wastes such as electronic, biomedical and municipal?
The CPCB is in the process of developing a management information system for tracking e-waste. We are also encouraging Producer Responsibility Organisations to work closely with states and municipal bodies to ensure extended producer’s responsibility targets on e-waste are met. For proper implementation of all rules, the ministry has constituted monitoring committees. Meetings on implementation status of these rules have been conducted and follow-up action has been started for action taken by the states.
Water crisis in Shimla has drawn attention towards shortcomings of development models. Do you think the government needs to re-examine them in the ecologically fragile Himalayan region?
The policies and programmes of our government are well thought out and the need is to implement them on ground which would take care of the problem.