The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta chaired the Apex Committee meeting and approved the action plan for implementing the National Clean Air Programme in Jammu and Kashmir.

Additional Chief Secretary, Health & Medical Education Department, Principal Secretary, Housing & Urban Development Department, Commissioner Secretary, Transport Department, Commissioner Secretary, Forest, Ecology & Environment Department along with Director, Ecology, Environment & Remote Sensing, Chairman and Member Secretary, Pollution Control Board (PCB) and concerned HoDs participated in the meeting.

It was informed that no industrial cluster in J&K falls under the critically polluted area. The approved plan aims at eliminating the use of pet coke and furnace oil in red and orange category industries within one and two years, respectively; and simultaneously promoting the usage of alternate energy sources like CNG, PNG, and electricity.

Moreover, all 17 categories of highly polluting industries in J&K have installed online emission monitoring systems (OCEMS) linked with CPCB Server to help track the discharges of pollutants, emissions, effluents therefrom.

Further, it was informed that installation of Air Pollution Control Devices (APCDs) and tree plantation within unit premises have been made mandatory for all the Orange and Red category units.

The Chief Secretary emphasized the constant monitoring of air quality in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the Department to install a grid of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) across all districts for real time assessment of PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NOx, NH3, CO, O3, and benzene in the Union territory.

Regarding the functioning of brick kilns, the Pollution Control Board has prescribed the use of adequate height of stacks, use of zig zag technology or vertical shaft, and use of coal/piped natural gas as fuel instead of charcoal and firewood; to check the air pollution associated with this sector.

The approved plan also includes a policy to set up e-waste and recycling units in industrial areas in compliance with the e-waste management rules. Accordingly, the Department of Industry and Commerce is assisting establishment of e-waste dismantling and recycling units in the existing and upcoming industrial park, estates and industrial clusters.

To assist the efforts towards curbing air pollution, a policy for phasing out old commercial and private vehicles in 10 years and 15 years respectively, has also been notified. Under the policy, the Transport Department is providing a subsidy of Rs.5.00 lakh per bus to encourage replacement with fuel efficient and eco-friendly alternatives.

The Chief Secretary asked the concerned agencies to tighten the inspection drives and ensure compliance to the PUC norms by the private and commercial vehicles.

Besides, the enforcement agencies were also directed to sternly deal with the construction debris and abandoned material as per the policy norms.

Dr. Mehta also impressed upon the Housing and Urban Development Department to ensure 100% door-to-door waste collection throughout Jammu and Kashmir, and expedite solid waste segregation for scientific disposal, in addition to strict implementation of single-use plastic ban.

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