Center fines additional Rs 7.5 crore to Vijayawada Municipal Corporation for improving air quality – Reuters

Express press service

VIJAYAWADA: The Center has provided an additional grant of 7.5 crores to the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) under the National Clean Air Program (NCAP). VMC officials along with other stakeholders including Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB), RTA, Police and industries are developing a plan to improve air quality in the limits of the civic body. In 2019, the Center had listed Vijayawada and five other cities in the state under NCAP to reduce the level of air pollution. So far, the Center has sanctioned 62 crore for the city under the funds of the 15th Finance Commission.

In the first phase, works estimated at around 31 crores, including the installation of automatic air quality monitoring sensors, water fountains and battery charging and swapping stations, improving of the green cover and the embellishment of the bunds of the canal, would be undertaken. “The development of green corridors through the city will be a priority, in addition to the development of buffer zones,” M Prabhakar Rao, chief engineer of the VMC, told TNIE.

Green corridors will help avoid traffic jams and reduce carbon emissions from vehicles, he explained. Elaborating on how water fountains at major road junctions will help, he said: “There will be more humidity in the air which will improve the microclimate and help settle dust. This can be cleaned using sweepers.

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Three sweepers were purchased at 1.5 crore to dust road corners. Cobblestones will also be laid on 28 identified roads across the city, Rao said. “The APPCB has developed proposals to install four continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations at a cost of 1 crore with 24X7 digital display panels at key locations in Vijayawada. Work in this regard is progressing at different levels,” the official added.

The VMC also sanctioned `5 crore to the police department for installing an intelligent traffic management system in the city. The Central Pollution Control Board has identified Vijayawada as a non-compliant city, meaning its air did not meet national ambient air quality standards from 2011 to 2015. “From now on, the coproration, with d other stakeholders, is preparing a plan to take various initiatives to reduce pollution in the city,” Prabhakar said, adding that work will soon be carried out by the respective departments.

Melissa C. Keyes