Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, April 10
Ludhiana district has got a special grant of Rs 26 crore for air quality improvement in the industrial hub of the state.
Amritsar has also received a similar grant of Rs 19 crore.
The Union government has released the urban local body grant for the million-plus cities to the state government as per the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission.
The Union Finance Ministry’s Director (FCD), Subhash Chandra Meena in a release order issued to the Local Government Secretary, a copy of which is with The Tribune, conveyed that the competent authority in the Union government had approved the release of the second instalment of the last fiscal 2020-21, amounting to Rs 1,583.07 crore to 13 states, of which Rs 45 crore was released to Punjab.
The second instalment of grant for million-plus cities recommended by the 15th Finance Commission was intended to be utilised for air quality improvement measures, including capacity building of the local bodies within the million-plus city/ agglomeration, as well as meeting the additional needs of the State Pollution Control Boards to appropriately assist the local bodies in monitoring the ambient air quality.
“The states while allocating grants to the urban local bodies in million-plus agglomerations/cities, as mentioned against such city, should also make allotment of grants on population basis for the Cantonment Boards, if any, within the territorial jurisdiction of any million-plus urban agglomerations/cities as per the 15th Finance Commission’s report for the year 2020-21,” the communique stated.
The Centre categorically asked the states to transfer the grants-in-aid directly to all million-plus urban agglomerations/cities within 10 working days of receipt from the Union government without any deduction. “Any delay beyond 10 working days will require the state government to release the same with interest as per the effective rate of interest on market borrowings/state development loans for the previous year,” the Union Finance Ministry directed.
The states were further instructed that the urban agglomeration that contains more than one million-plus cities, the concerned state government, in consultation with all such entities within the urban agglomeration, shall entrust one urban local body as a nodal entity to receive the grants. “This nodal entity shall also have the responsibility of achieving the performance indicators for the entire urban agglomeration,” the Centre desired.
Other states that were given the Central grant for air quality improvement included Andhra Pradesh Rs 67.5 crore, Bihar Rs 102 crore, Chhattisgarh Rs 53.5 crore, Gujarat Rs 202.5 crore, Haryana Rs 24 crore, Jharkhand Rs 79.5 crore, Karnataka Rs 139.5 crore, Madhya Pradesh Rs 149.5 crore, Maharashtra Rs 396.5 crore, Rajasthan Rs 140.5 crore, Tamil Nadu Rs 116.5 crore, and Telangana Rs 66.57 crore.
Earlier, the Centre had released Rs 375.26 crore grant-in-aid to the states under the National Clean Air Programme for implementation of city action plans during the years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The Union Finance Ministry has sought city-wise provisional utilisation certificate for the previous grants.
Air pollution causes cancer: WHO
In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) had officially added outdoor air pollution, especially particulate matter, to the list of causes that lead to cancer. Though healthcare providers had been suspecting the role of air pollution in causing cancer since long, there was little scientific evidence other than research on diesel smoke particles. The WHO study had concluded that air pollution, specifically PM 2.5 fine particulates, are clearly a cause of lung cancer. The agency had also concluded that air pollution is a cause of bladder cancer.
Improvement in air quality
- Ludhiana’s air quality that was considered among the most polluted in the world had considerably improved last year, as per the recent report by IQAir, a Swiss group. The report had placed Punjab’s industrial capital at 142nd rank among the main polluted cities in the world in 2020, which came down from 127 in 2019 and 95 in 2018.
- Placed as fifth most polluted city in Punjab, the report had revealed that Ludhiana’s annual common PM (particulate matter) 2.5 had come down to 45.2 micrograms per cubic metre in 2020 from 49.3 in 2019 and 55.1 in 2018.
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