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Political will to curb pollution missing, existing laws ineffective: Experts


NEW DELHI:  The Centre's proposal for a new law to curb air pollution has raised questions if the existing laws are ineffective with experts saying it is not law but political will to implement them that is missing to check pollution levels.

Polash Mukerjee, Air Quality Researcher said that Prima facie, the lack of law is not a problem in India, whether it is about paddy stubble burning, providing subsidies or penalising the polluter.

"The problem lies in the fact that political will is missing when it comes to implementation. Having said that, it will be welcome if there is a specific provision to deal with crop residue burning at a national level, and not leave it contained as a problem in Punjab and Haryana only.

Satellite images from central and southern India show the extent of crop residue burning in these parts as well, which have an impact on local climate resilience," said Mukerjee.

Echoing similar views, Sunil Dahiya, Analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said biggest struggle is political will to actually implement the existing laws and notifications, which is clearly shown with the implementation level of all the regulation existing today on environment and air pollution.

"So, coming up with new legislation alone is not going to help clean the air, it has to be actual action on pollution sources while implementing the rules and regulations, which will help us clean the air," he added.

A report by Beijing based policy think tank, Bluetech Clean Air Alliance (BCAA) released in June 2019, had said that China faced similar problem and the Chinese government started to show strong political commitment in tackling the issue from the highest levels, which is widely considered to be a key factor of success.

"In addition, political commitments from the state governments are also required to ensure political commitments are transformed into solid actions. Effective air quality management requires science based policy making, analysing scientific assessments, data monitoring, emissions inventory, air quality modelling, source apportionment studies and transport planning. China's lessons showed that significant investments and efforts that have no foundation in science are made in vain, with no impact on air quality improvement," said the report.