Air pollution in New Delhi has dominated headlines over the past few weeks. The level of air pollution was in the “severe” category.

Evolution Of Delhi As A Gas Chamber

On 6th November 2017, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that “Delhi has become a gas chamber. ” The concentration of PM 2.5 on 5th November was averaged close to 700 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 12 times higher than government norms and a whopping 70 times higher than WHO standards. The visibility was less than 50 meters. This has become an annual event in Delhi. To ameliorate the situation this year the Supreme Court had banned the sale of firecrackers in NCR region. Pollution level this year after Diwali was lower than last year, but still breached the emergency point.

The Game of Buck Passing

In the same tweet, Mr Kejriwal blamed the state of Punjab and Haryana for the pollution in New Delhi. The crop burning in Punjab and Haryana is said to be contributing to air pollution in Delhi, but it is not the sole reason. Every year at the start of winter when there is raise in air pollution these states start blaming each other. After witnessing deadly air quality by any standard last year, these states should have come with solution till now. They were on the same ground zero when air pollution was at its deepest point this year. The Central government is overlooking the issue considering it a state issue.

Actual Causes Of Gas Chamber

According to the State of Global Air Report, weak policy on pollution is leading to premature deaths of an estimated 1.1 million Indians annually, and the number is growing, in contrast to China. Delhi has 15 air pollution monitoring centres out of which 10 are working. In comparison, Beijing has 35 and London has 100. Weak public transport has compelled many to use private vehicles which are also major contributor to air pollution. The failure of the government to dispose of solid waste generated in the city with scientific method also leads to air pollution in Delhi. There are many thermal power plant in the area around Delhi also contribute to the air pollution in Delhi.

Ray Of Hope

Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change has come up with Graded Response Action Plan on the order of the Supreme Court. According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune has reduced the pollution levels by 15 % compared to what would have been otherwise. The Government has decided to use BS VI from next year which will reduce pollution levels considerably.

Everyone is aware of the problem, but there is lack of action on the problem. Such an air quality puts the health of children at risk. Putting children at the risk of death due to choking up of lungs due to manmade air pollution is nothing short of murder. There is a need for a concrete action by all stakeholders. Actions by Delhi government such as the ban of construction, heavy vehicle, thermal power plant, brick kilns, odd-even rule have been taken after air pollution hit the State. We need action which will avert the further occurrence of such deadly crisis.

 

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