New Delhi | The Congress on Friday voiced concern over rising air pollution in the country and called for a total revamp of the Air Pollution Act and air quality standards to make them stringent and effective.
The demand came amid rising air pollution levels in the national capital and other parts of the country.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said The Air Pollution (Control and Prevention) Act came into being in 1981. Thereafter, ambient air quality standards were announced in April 1994 and later revised in October 1998, he noted.
In November 2009, after a thorough review by IIT Kanpur and other institutions a more stringent and wide-ranging National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) was put into effect.
This covered 12 pollutants considered very detrimental to public health, he said, while sharing the press note that accompanied the implementation of NAAQS which reveals the thinking for the significant shift that took place then.
"It is now time for a revisit and a total revamp of both the Act and the NAAQS. Over the past decade and more, compelling evidence has accumulated on the impacts of air pollution on public health," Ramesh said.
The former environment minister said in January 2014, an expert steering committee on "Air Pollution and Health Related Issues" was set up and it submitted its report in August 2015.
"Since then the weaknesses in our enforcement machinery of both the law and the standards along with the emasculation of the National Green Tribunal have become painfully evident," Ramesh said.
"The National Clean Air Programme is chugging along without having any marked impacts. Air pollution hits the headlines mostly in November when the nation's capital chokes. But it is a daily agony across the country all round the year," the Congress leader said.
Delhi's air quality plummeted to the "severe plus" category on Friday morning, a stage at which all emergency measures, including a ban on polluting trucks, commercial four-wheelers, and all types of construction, are mandated to be initiated and enforced in the National Capital Region.