June 01: The 15th Finance Commission headed by Sh. N. K. Singh and including its Members and senior officials held a detailed meeting with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change headed by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar, senior officers on issues relating to Air Quality(AQ) especially that in Urban Areas. It may be recalled that the XVFC Report 2020-2021 was the first time that any Commission has given attention to air quality (AQ) as a major focus and this FC had not only recommended grants for 2020-21 and also provided a road map for its award period. The meeting started with the Minister applauding the Commission for this path-breaking step.
The Commission is currently deliberating the recommendations to be made for the next five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26 and needs to formulate suitable provisions for continuing the grants for these cities/UAs for improving ambient air quality in a sustainable manner. In this regard, it needed to understand the procedure and operational guidelines finalized in administering these grants and monitoring the outcomes for 2020-21, the meeting with the MoEF&CC was called for.
The objective of the meeting focused was to discuss on the status of the implementation of the FC’s recommendations for 2020-21 for administering the grants to improve AQ in million-plus cities and also to seek inputs from the Ministry on what should be considered for the next five years from 2021 to 2026 and this was elaborated by the Chairman, Shri N. K. Singh to the Minister and the officials.
The Minister (MoEF&CC) Shri Prakash Javadekar, appreciated the inclusion of Air Quality(AQ) of Delhi in the XVFC’s Report of 2020-2021 and added that there would be a basic structural change in sources of AQ in the next few years and particularly in larger cities of the country due to the new regime to emission norms which would lead to an estimated reduction of 30 to 40 percent in vehicular emission.
He opined that strict implementation of pollution and emission laws with harsh punishment and penalties to the defaulters is the pre-requisite for ambient AQ.