In a proactive measure to tackle the impending winter pollution crisis, the Delhi government has initiated its “Green War Room” at the Delhi Secretariat, led by Environment Minister Gopal Rai. The War Room, a pivotal component of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s 15-point winter action plan, is designed to closely monitor air quality and coordinate efforts to mitigate pollution in the city.
The “Green War Room,” initially introduced in 2020, will operate round the clock, staffed by a dedicated team of 17 members, comprising engineers and scientists from the State Environment Department and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). The comprehensive approach of the war room aims to address pollution stemming from various sources, including vehicle emissions, dust, industrial activities, and crop burning.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had unveiled the 15-point winter action plan, which came into effect on October 1. As part of this strategy, specialized teams from different agencies will be deployed across the city. Their objectives include intensifying vehicle inspections, reducing dust and industrial emissions, preventing crop burning, and ensuring regular road cleaning. Chief Minister Kejriwal also called upon neighboring National Capital Region (NCR) states to collaborate, particularly in curbing farm fires and restricting the use of firecrackers during Diwali.
Minister Gopal Rai highlighted the significance of the “Green War Room” in facilitating 24×7 monitoring of these extensive efforts. The DPCC’s senior environment scientist, Nandita Moitra, will lead the team, which includes 13 members designated as nodal officers, each responsible for overseeing pollution hotspots across Delhi.
These officers will not only monitor air quality at these hotspots but also conduct field visits to assess and address pollution issues on-site. Delhi has 13 such pollution hotspots, identified by DPCC and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), including areas like Anand Vihar, Mundka, Okhla, and Rohini.
Moreover, the “Green War Room” will employ satellite imagery from the American space agency NASA to monitor farm fires, contributing to early detection and prevention. Additionally, the room will prioritize responding to complaints lodged on the “Green Delhi” mobile application, where citizens can report violations of anti-pollution regulations.
Minister Rai emphasized that resolving complaints on the app would be a top priority for the war room. This year, the app has received 70,684 complaints, with 90% of them already resolved. The complaints primarily came from areas under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), followed by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
Dipankar Saha, former head of CPCB’s air laboratory, underlined the significance of addressing complaints effectively, as it reflects the public’s challenges at the local level regarding air pollution. Saha also suggested that the government could expand the manual air quality measurement network and leverage the war room to monitor such data comprehensively.