There is barely any difference in overall PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5) trends between cities under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) and those outside its ambit, as per a new analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), released on the eve of the UN International Day of Clean Air for Blue Sky. Both groups of cities reflect similar mixed trends in air quality in different climatic zones and require a substantial reduction in particulate pollution levels to be able to meet the national ambient air quality standards.
The national analysis was carried out by CSE of PM2.5 levels in cities to understand the trend in both NCAP and non-NCAP cities, and the level of reduction needed in both groups of cities to meet the national clean air standards. The analysis also exposed the status of air quality monitoring in terms of manual and real-time monitoring, the extent of PM10 and PM2.5 monitoring in cities, and the challenges of data quality to construct and verify a longer-term air quality trend.
Only 43 NCAP cities have adequate PM2.5 data for the period 2019–2021, enough to create a reasonable trend for tracking progress. However, 2020 has been an exceptional year due to the lockdown phases. Nearly all cities have recorded a dip in 2020 followed by a subsequent increase in 2021. Therefore, a comparison between 2019 and 2021 shows that only 14 of the 43 cities have registered a 10% or more reduction in their PM2.5 level between the two years.
Seven cities show negligible change (less than 5%). These include Delhi and Ghaziabad. There are 16 cities that have registered a significant increase (5 % or more) in their PM2.5 levels. Khanna, Jaipur, and Udaipur have registered the most deterioration, with their 2021 annual values increasing by over 20% compared to their 2019 annual values. Faridabad is the only NCR NCAP city in this pool with a significant worsening of air quality, with a 6% increase.
Punjab, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra cities dominate the list of cities that have registered a significant increase in PM2.5 levels between 2019 and 2021. Chennai, Varanasi, and Pune show the most improvement among NCAP cities. Unlike cities with increasing pollution levels, which have a very clear regional pattern, there is no regional pattern among cities reporting significant improvement in their air quality.
There are 46 cities that are not covered under NCAP. In this group, 15 cities have registered a significant worsening of annual PM2.5 levels between 2019 and 2021. Ankleshwar in Gujarat, with a 34% increase in annual PM2.5 value, is the worst performer in the pool, followed by Satna (Madhya Pradesh), Vatva (Gujarat), Bahadurgarh (Haryana), and Bhatinda (Punjab); all of which have registered a 20 % increase.
Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat dominate the list of non-NCAP.
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J&K emerges as a powerhouse in 3 years of Article 370 abrogation
Jammu and Kashmir’s new industrial policy has proven itself to be a turning point in the history of the Himalayan region as it launched a “golden period” for industrial development in the Union territory with an outlay of Rs 28,400 crore.
It has been noted that several conglomerates across the country have invested in the UT after the abrogation of its special status (Article 370) on August 5, 2019, which also bifurcated the erstwhile state into two Union territories: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Despite the investors being keen to set up their ventures here, no outsider could purchase immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir as it was considered a “no-go area” under Article 370 of the India Constitution, which was a temporary provision.
Prominent conglomerates like the Lulu Group, Apollo, EMAAR, and Jindal are among the few business groups that have invested in the Union Territory in the recent past. Moreover, the J-K administration has signed several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial, and Noon E-Commerce, respectively.
So far, the UT has received proposals worth Rs 52,155 crore for investment in one year, and many more are coming, which would continue to benefit the people of J-K.
The people here are reaping the benefits as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took this bold move to end the 70-year-long status quo of the erstwhile princely state, which has now been opened to the world.
On August 5, 2019, PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured the people of the Himalayan region that a new dawn had broken, and both leaders have kept their promises by putting Jammu and Kashmir on the path of peace, prosperity, and development.
Rally held against DBRAIT administration, police disperses students by force
In continuation of the several months’ long agitation against the administration and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Institution of Technology, the students of DBRAIT organised a protest rally that started from DBRAIT to the Secretariat on Thursday.
As per a report, the police team deployed to monitor the situation intercepted the rally at Dairy Farm Junction near Pillar Health Center, while the students, in retaliation, resorted to Chakka Jam, which disrupted the normal flow of traffic at the tri-junctions.
The rally and protest were attended by the students’ parents as well. State President, National Students Union of India (NSUI), Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with his team, gave full ground support to the protest rally.
Other major political parties in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands endorsed the students’ protest rally and demanded that all the demands regarding affiliation be resolved immediately.
About 150 students took to the street to hold the protest rally, which turned out to be a successful one, they claimed.
As per late reports, nearly 30 students were picked up by police and taken to unknown locations. However, it is still not clear whether the students were detained or arrested.
The chakka jam, on the other hand, caused thousands of people to be inconvenienced as all traffic was diverted to the Chakkargaon and Corbyn’s Cove routes, where they experienced several hour-long traffic jams throughout the day.
The Andaman and Nicobar Police used physical force and water cannon to disperse students from the Dairy Farm main road area, and when the police failed to do so, the department used tear gas to disperse students, leaving many students struggling to even breathe and a few senseless for a couple of moments.
When the fire service team was using water cannon on students, a lot of the general public came to safeguard the students and raised their voices against police action. Instead of giving opportunity to the students to recover, the police team used tear gas on the students.
A large number of people in the public who were present at the scene openly criticised the cops and called their actions cowardly.
It was learned that a few students were taken to the hospital in an ambulance after they developed health issues due to the use of tear gas.
Goa BJP leader urges govt to set up fund for restoration of catholic churches
Goa BJP leader Savio Rodrigues has urged the Centre and the Goa government to set up a fund to restore heritage catholic churches in the state.
In a letter to Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the BJP spokesperson said the scheme by the government to restore temples destroyed by the Portuguese was a great move to preserve the Indic heritage and culture. Similarly, he said, a fund should be set up to preserve the heritage catholic churches as well. “Catholic churches are a wonderful tourist attraction not only for people from the Christian community but also people from different religious communities that marvel at its history, its spiritual essence and its architectural prowess,” he said.
He said some of the churches — like The Velim Church, Church of Our Lady of Rosary, Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Three Kings Chapel – are monumental wonders that must be preserved.
Rodrigues also suggested a study could be initiated before commissioning the funds.
“We must endeavour to work with our Christian sisters and brothers to preserve our state’s historic catholic churches as they are an integral part of Goa’s rich and collective identity,” he said in the letter.
The BJP spokesperson also said that he was looking forward to the continuous support of the government to make Goa a “truly secular state”.
Pune air base gets 3D-printed Runway Controller Hut
Using 3D printing technology, the Military Engineer Services (MES) has constructed a first-of-its-kind Runway Controller Hut at the Pune Air Force Station in just 30 days, officials said Thursday.
The novel construction includes a 3D-printed concrete foundation and wall panels, besides a ground-floor roof using precast technology. The upper floor panels are supported by steel girders and encased in toughened glass.The upper-floor roof has been provided with Galvalume and PUF panels. These huts are an integral part of air traffic services and aerospace safety, providing vital inputs to the Duty Air Traffic Control Officer (DATCO) for the smooth, efficient, and safe conduct of flying operations.
3D printing technology is a fast-emerging way of constructing structures. It uses computer-aided design to create three-dimensional objects through a layering method.
The Runway Controller Hut also has a sanitary block, and the staircases are also 3D printed. The entire structure has been given an aesthetic yet functional set of specifications, officials said.
The Indian Army’s Engineer-in-Chief, Lt. Gen. Harpal Singh, inspected the new structure on Wednesday.
Officials said the MES used a “hybrid approach” to speed up the construction process without compromising on quality, rather than restricting itself to a particular technology.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis orders probe in RRVs purchased by MVA government
Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, said Thursday that a probe has been ordered into the purchase of 18 Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) by the previous MVA government, allegedly at an inflated price of Rs three crore each during the pandemic.
The vehicles, called “Devdoot,” were purchased in 2020–21 fiscal by the relief and rehabilitation department, which was then headed by Congress Minister Vijay Wadettiwar. The vehicles are said to be equipped to respond quickly in the event of a natural calamity. Fadnavis, who holds the finance and home portfolios in the current dispensation, told ANI that a probe has been ordered into the alleged scam after media reports said that the vehicles were purchased at a higher price than their actual cost. The vehicles cost Rs 54 crore in total.
“The tender was issued by the Relief and Rehabilitation Department. In July 2020, minister Vijay Wadettiwar had written that it was very necessary to provide RRVs to 16 municipal corporations, the NDRF, and the SDRF,” one of the sources said.
“However, the finance department, at that time led by Ajit Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, objected to the purchase since the state was facing a very tight fiscal situation due to the pandemic. Despite the objection, the RRVs were purchased,” the source added.
Recently, BJP leader and Maharashtra Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar too demanded a detailed inquiry into the suspected scam.
The previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government comprised the Shiv Sena, the Congress, and the Nationalist Congress Party. Former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray led it.
PFI Kerala general secretary Abdul Sattar handed over to NIA
Senior PFI leader from Kerala, Abdul Sattar, who had been allegedly absconding but was arrested soon after the radical outfit was banned in India, has been handed over to the NIA, a senior police official said Thursday.
Sattar, the Kerala state general secretary of the Popular Front of India, was arrested from his office in Kollam district Wednesday. His arrest came hours after the government announced a ban on PFI for allegedly having terror links. Sattar had called for a state-wide hartal on September 23 against raids on the outfit and arrests of its leaders. During the hartal, there were reports of violence from Kerala.
Karunagappally Assistant Commissioner of Police Pratheep Kumar said the state police were on alert and watching Sattar for nearly a week.
“Sattar was initially absconding and appeared in public later. He was arrested from his office in Kollam and handed over to (National Investigation Agency) NIA officials last night,” the ACP added.
On Wednesday, after the government announced the ban on PFI, Sattar disbanded the outfit and asked all its members to cease their activities.
“All PFI members and the public are informed that the PFI has been dissolved. MHA has issued a notification banning PFI. As law-abiding citizens of our great country, the organisation accepts the decision,” he had said.
The Union Home Ministry has declared the PFI and its associates “as an unlawful association” and banned them for five years. It said that PFI and its affiliates operate openly as a socio-economic and political organisation “but they have been pursuing a secret agenda to radicalise a particular section of the society” to undermine the concept of democracy.
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