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Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday exuded confidence that the country will take less time than the 15 years taken by Beijing to improve air quality in the national capital. Responding to a discussion on “air pollution and climate change”, the minister said a mass movement is needed to tackle the problem.

“It took Beijing 15 years (to fight air pollution). We will take lesser time,” the Minister said, referring to the air quality in Delhi. There is a relation between pollution and climate change, the Environment Minister said, adding that 40 per cent of India’s total power capacity will come from renewable sources before 2030.

Noting that India’s green cover is increasing, the minister said five times more trees have been planted in the national capital in place of trees cut down for construction of the Delhi Metro. Observing that pollution in Delhi was the topic of discussion in the entire country, he said the “solution of the problem will come only when we recognize the problem.”

The air quality in Delhi was in the ‘very poor’ category on Friday, improving slightly from the ‘severe’ level a day ago. The overall air quality index (AQI) was 364 at 9.30 am. On measures being taken to control pollution, the Minister said round-the-clock monitoring was taking place.

The Union Minister also said that a ban has been put on the use of furnace oil and emission norms have been enhanced.

The government has formed a task force on Delhi’s toxic smog and every day the monitoring was being done by the Prime Minister’s Office. The more trees planted, the more it will help in reducing pollution, Union Minister said.

“If each one of us pledges to plant seven trees an oxygen bank will automatically be created,” the Minister said. Earlier participating in a debate on pollution, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said there has to be a concerted effort to deal with this problem. Both state and central governments should work together to deal with the issue of pollution which has become a matter of concern.

“We need a climate-smart economy, You should introduce climate literacy,” Union Minister said. Choudhary charged that the Environment and Forest Ministry under the NDA government appear to be pro-business rather than pro-conservation.

Climate change was never mentioned in the Budget in the last couple of year, Union Environment Minister said, adding, this shows the importance of being imparted by the government to this important issue. Jagdambika Pal (BJP) said pollution is not only life-threatening but also affecting GDP growth.

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