In news– According to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), use of coal as a fuel will be banned across the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) with effect from January 1, 2023.
- As the concerns of air pollution are uniform across the NCR, it has been decided by the CAQM to phase out use of coal as a fuel from entire NCR in industrial, domestic and miscellaneous applications (barring the use of low sulphur coal only in thermal power plants), towards aiming for an overall improved air quality in the region.
- For regions where infrastructure for and supply of piped natural gas (PNG) is already available, the ban on the use of coal will come into force from October 1, 2022.
- Around 1.7 million tonnes of coal is used annually in industries in the NCR, according to CAQM.
- In a directive issued in February this year, the CAQM had noted that a majority of industries in the NCR are still not operating on PNG or “cleaner fuels”, despite availability of natural gas infrastructure and supply.
- Such industries in the NCR were then directed to completely switch over to PNG or biomass fuels by September 30 this year, or face closure.
- Industries in Delhi are permitted to run only on PNG or electricity.
- With air quality having deteriorated last winter, the commission had also restricted the timing of operation of industries not running on PNG to eight hours a day for five days a week.
Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM)-
- The Commission has been set up for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas for better co-ordination, research, identification and resolution of problems surrounding the air quality index and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
- The Commission brings together the Centre, states, and other stakeholders on one collaborative platform.
- It will have a full-time chairperson “who is or has been Secretary to the Government of India or Chief Secretary to the Government of a state”.
- The chairperson will hold the post for three years or until s/he attains the age of 70 years.
- The Commission will also have five ex officio members who are either Chief Secretaries, or Secretaries in charge of the department dealing with environment protection in the States of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh
- It has three full-time independent technical members and three representatives of NGOs with experience in combating air pollution.
- It will have members from Niti Aayog and several Ministries.
Functions of the Commission include:
- Co-ordinating actions taken under the Ordinance by concerned state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh).
- Planning and executing plans to prevent and control air pollution in the NCR.
- Providing a framework for identification of air pollutants.
- Conducting research and development through networking with technical institutions.
- Training and creating a special workforce to deal with issues related to air pollution.
- Preparing various action plans such as increasing plantation and addressing stubble burning.