Budget 2018: Dark and dangerous infamous smog of Delhi has made people across India concerned about air pollution. Now, the Economic Survey 2017-18, which was tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament today ahead of Budget 2018, has laid down suggestions for improvement of air quality in Delhi. The survey has ascribed a number of reasons for Delhi’s worsening air quality – crop residue and biomass burning, vehicular emission and re-destributed road dust, industries, power plants and winter temperature inversion, humidity and absence of wind.
Written by Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subhramanian, the important pre-Budget 2018 document, Economic Survey suggests the solution to pollution can be found by coordination between agencies, Central and state governments, and sustained civic engagement.
Economic Survey says that among the steps being implemented at present are short-term emergency plan and medium and long-range actions. “The short-term emergency plan is to be implemented when 24-hourly PM 2.5 exceeds 300-400µg/m3, including imposing heavy penalties on burning of agricultural waste, using satellite-based tools to detect fires, payment of incentives to farmers,” says the crucial pre-Budget 2018 document. The medium and long-range actions include implementing congestion pricing for vehicles, improving public transport system and expanding modernized bus fleets, phasing out old vehicles and accelerating BS-VI, it adds.
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The special mention of Delhi air pollution in the Survey could be an indication that Modi government may address the issue in Budget 2018. The Survey suggests the use of technology to convert agricultural waste into usable fodder or bio-fuel and to provide incentives to farmers who want to shift to non-paddy crop. The Survey says cites straw management system for rice and wheat farming as an example for the same. The pre-budget 2018 document also mentions the ‘Happy Seeder’ machine that sows seeds without removing paddy straw and suggests that such a technological solution must be combined with economics.
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“Such a technological solution must be combined with economics by providing incentives to Centre and states and should be implemented through agricultural cooperatives and local bodies,” it says, indicating that the same may find a mention in Budget 2018 document. Stress the importance of the cause, the Survey also mentions the adverse impact of indoor pollution on women and children. Access to modern energy sources can reduce the amount of time spent on collection of firewood and have a positive impact on the education and employment of girls, the Survey says. FM Arun Jaitley will present Budget 2018 in parliament on February 1.