As the jury is out on the alarming levels of pollution in the national capital, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today marked out oil companies for causing maximum damage to the environment and urged them to do their bit to maintain ecology.
"These (oil companies) have a lot of money. And these are also the ones causing pollution. Theirs is a big contribution for pollution in the country," Gadkari said at an event organised by the Mumbai Port Trust here.
He asked the hydrocarbon companies to contribute to environment protection, citing the case of Indian Oil Corporation which has set up a sewage treatment plant near the Yamuna.
"I whole-heartedly want these companies to shut shop and shift to bio fuels," said the minister, pointing to executives from three major state-owned OMCs -- HPCL, BPCL and IOC -- sitting in the audience.
He regretted that domestic car makers were unable to make cleaner Euro-VI compliant engines, but made it clear that April 2020 deadline will not be changed.
"Pollution is the biggest problem of our country," said Gadkari, who handles the shipping and road transport portfolios.
He also went public with his disappointment on the rising number of vehicles on the road and made a case for increasing the rail network.
Citing the smog scare in Delhi, Gadkari asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the state machinery to ensure the country's financial capital is protected, especially from water and air pollution.
"We are reading about Delhi in newspapers. For Mumbai, it is my prayer before the chief minister and officials... the real problem (in Mumbai) is water and air," Gadkari said.
He said two major ports in the city and its periphery -- Mumbai and JNPT -- are setting up sewage treatment plants and added that the water can be used for oil refineries.
Gadkari, who has lived in Mumbai for long, also said he does not feel like going to the Worli Seaface promenade these days because of the stench.
He said his ministry is prioritising the cleaner fuel of LNG (liquefied natural gas) over others, adding that it is in talks with the Russian government for technology transfer for an LNG-fired catamaran that can cruise at 37 nautical miles per hour.