BENGALURU: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s statement in the budget that cities with a population of one million or more should formulate and implement plans for ensuring clean air has come as a wake- up call for the state government.
Experts and retired government officials point that all the short and long term plans which the government departments prepared under C-40 have remained only on paper.
"There is no coordination between transport and urban planning departments to control pollution. In fact, so many infrastructure projects happening on the ground with little or no check by the Pollution Control Board are leading to high dust levels and particulate matter in the city," an expert said.
Experts pointed out that the best way to maintain clean air is by planting trees. But the government is axing trees and allowing pollution and to control it, air filters and air purifier machines are being installed, they said.
"The government is comical. Mass rapid transport system which has been spoken about for many years is the best way, but the progress on ground is very slow. The central government should have imposed pollution cess and penalty on state governments and cities. Improper planning is the biggest problem. There is lack of coordination between departments," another expert said.
Government officials, however, are now working towards afforestation, installing more air filters in the city, imposing stricter fines on vehicles not getting emission tests done and bringing KSRTC, BMTC and private buses and lorries under the scanner for air pollution.
A senior KSPCB official said the transport department is not addressing the major issue of banning old polluting vehicles. The government is also not keen on introducing congestion cess, which would reduce the number of vehicles on road and lead to cleaner air. Quick implementation of mass transport is the subsequent step, he said.