“The concluding sessions of the Indo-US workshop on air pollution on Wednesday ended with heated exchange of words. Ranged on two sides were Sunita Narain, head of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and some experts from the US. The verbal duel broke out after one of the experts suggested that the state that burns crop stubble, contributing to air pollution can be sued for doing so. But both agreed on a stringent strategy that ensures accountability needed to reduce air pollution levels.
Narain said many participants at the workshop were acting like India has just realized that there is an air pollution problem. “If you want to work here, you have to respect the action that is already happening here. The reason farmers in Punjab and Haryana burn crop stubble is because there are no economic incentives to stop burning. They don’t have machinery that will allow them to bail it and plough it back. Please don’t lecture us unless you are sensitive to the challenges here,” Narain said, adding that “local and global pollution are intrinsically linked. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transportation sector in US is increasing. You can help us fix local and we can work together to fix the global problem,” she said. During the group discussion to arrive at final recommendations, participants discussed if India could have policy where state governments are given deadlines to meet air quality standards . If they failed to meet the deadlines, they could be penalized by withholding central funds for various projects. US has a similar policy and experts suggested that India could also implement such a system but it would require suitable legislation to enforce such a plan…” The Times of India. Read it on delhiair.org.