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“By 2010, India may be free of chlorofluorocarbon”

The central government is aiming for a complete reduction in chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) production by the year 2010 for protection of the ozone layer, said Ministry of Environment and Forests Joint Secretary B P Neelratna. He was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) education pack for primary teachers developed by the UNEP Ozone Action Branch. The education pack in four languages Marathi, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu was inaugurated by Mayor Rajlakshmi Bhosale at the S M Joshi Hall on Wednesday.

Neelratna said that India was a signatory of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, an international treaty for phasing out production of ozone0depleting substances, from 1992. Since then, he said the government had taken many measures to curb production of substances like carbon tetrachloride, CFC, and so on.

“As of January 1, 2002, India has succeeded in freezing production of halons (haloalkane). From 2005, the production of carbon tetrachloride has been reduced by 85 per cent and of CFCs by 50 per cent. As per the Montreal Protocol, it is now binding on India to implement complete removal of CFC production by 2010”, said Neelratna. Apart from this, he said that customs and excise duty was being waived for companies that invested in ozone-friendly technology.

UNEP Regional Coordinator for Bangkok Atul Bagai said that banks could play a crucial role in disseminating information about protecting the ozone layer from depletion. “Banks can help by spreading the message among individuals who take bank loans from them like farmers and industries, said Bagai.

He also said that since it was translated into four languages, the education pack would now be able to reach out to one billion people across the world. “The pack can also reach out to children in Pakistan since it is in Urdu as well,” he said.

Bhosale promised complete support to the UNEP for publicizing the education pack and said that the pack would be made available and screened at all Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) schools.

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