Bhubaneswar: At the behest of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the state government has prepared an action plan to improve the ambient air quality in six towns of Odisha.
The action plan has been prepared for six towns of the state – Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Angul, Balasore and Talcher. This was discussed and shared among the stakeholders, experts and activists at a state-level workshop held here Tuesday.
Inaugurating the workshop, Chief Secretary AP Padhi said Odisha had set on a mission mode to monitor and manage urban air quality years back.
As a first generation action, steps have been taken to improve emission standards for industries, shifting of polluting industries and putting in place extensive public transport system.
“Causes of the air pollution and its remedies are very well-known. Policies have also been framed. The action plan is also ready. Now, it is the time for strengthening the implementing mechanism and strict enforcement,” Padhi told the officials.
“The people who cause pollution must pay for compensatory action and the people who violate must be punished to deter the tendency of violation,” he asked.
Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said the action plan has been prepared in a time-bound manner, approximately within two months, under the joint efforts of New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Forest and Environment Department and State Pollution Control Board.
The State Pollution Control Board Member Debidutta Biswal said, “Air pollution has reached alarming proportions. Around 7 million people of the world have been affected by air pollution related diseases out of which four million are residents of Asia-Pacific region. The problem needs cogent and coherent efforts by different stakeholders.”
Hearing a petition, the NGT October 8, 2018 had asked 23 states and Union Territories to prepare action plans to curb air pollution in 102 cities, of which six are in Odisha. The air quality in these cities is not compliant with the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The tribunal had asked the states to prepare the action plan within two months failing which the Chief Secretary of the concerned state would be held responsible.