The capital of India, Delhi has an old association with Air Pollution. What hasn’t been done in Delhi to reduce air pollution?
The strategy of Odd-Even, CNG installation in vehicles, usage of metro trains, banning of lighting of firecrackers in Diwali, solar energy utilization, etc, and what not…. But the air has deteriorated from bad to worse..!!..
The year 2021 has introduced us and the Chief Minister of Delhi to some new challenges and hardships. In the previous years, the festival of Diwali brought smog, lack of visibility, and bronchitis to Delhiites after the celebration. But, this time the imposters arrived earlier than Diwali too….
The bad air quality in Delhi is not only posing a threat to people suffering from respiratory diseases but also devouring healthy lungs. A quick review of the happenings will let us acknowledge more about the actual predicaments faced by Delhi.
What happened suddenly?
Residents of Delhi woke up on Diwali morning, Thursday, to be introduced to an Air Quality of ‘very poor’ at 7 am. The Air Quality Index(AQI) hit the index of 334 without any reluctance.
While the index showed no mercy, the meteorologists had beads of sweat erupting on their foreheads. Just the previous day on Wednesday the average AQI was 314, which was also a ‘very poor category, according to the System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR).
This sudden rise in the AQI was just the silence before a storm.
The rising AQI was the indication of reaching an AQI of 350 and standing at the higher end of the ‘very poor’ category later on Thursday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The primary reason for this anticipation of rising AQI is the burning of firecrackers on Diwali. Although there is a complete ban on the sale and usage of firecrackers, it’s quite common for people to defy legal actions.
Another major foe is the Stubble Burning.
Farmers of neighboring states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh sharing their boundaries with Delhi, might begin burning stubble from Thursday.
The contribution of stubble burning may add 20-40 to the existing AQI until Saturday. The last time when Delhi’s air entered the ‘severe’ category was in 2016, touching an AQI of 416.
What is ‘very poor’?
Many of us might not be well aware of the technical terms used like AQI or ‘severe’ or ‘poor’ category of air. So let’s probe into this technicality and understand what’s in the air :
Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index or a yardstick used by government agencies to disseminate to the public about the level of pollution in the air that is present or forecasted to become.
Every country has its air quality indices according to the different national air quality standards.
Various AQI bands are defined to communicate the exact level of pollution in the air to people. The following bands are:
People unusually susceptible to air pollution must plan vigorous outdoor activities when air quality is better.
Sensitive Groups: Try to avoid going outdoors or reschedule your travel.
Sensitive Groups: Avoid going outdoors.
Everyone: Cut down on your outdoor activities.
Sensitive Groups: Do not do outdoor activities.
Everyone: Cut down maximum outdoor activities.
Now I hope all will understand the severity of the situation and what the’ very poor’ category of air quality indicates.
Some days ago…
This year Northern India has received more than average rainfall than ever. It received so much rainfall that many places had an ‘Orange alert’ warning for the residents. But this served as an advantage for Delhi.
Record-breaking rainfall and favorable weather conditions had resulted in a drop in the air pollution level of Delhi, which was a record in itself. It was the first time in four years that Delhiites were able to breathe fresh or better quality air for a month.
But even good days have to end… Agency REUTERS had already warned the authorities of a sharp decline in air quality in November. Diwali crackers and farmers preparing to torch farm waste of the previous rice crop to ready the field for planting the wheat crop, have made their inferences come true.
Can something be done?
Curbing air pollution entirely is out of the question until we eliminate factories, vehicles, industries, combustion, etc which is impossible to do in the real world. The public along with the Government can work together to take initiatives.
Therefore some measures to reduce air pollution can be an interesting topic to ponder over:
- Increasing land area under vegetation cover- Many areas in Delhi are devoid of trees or plantations.
- Using cycles, public transport for traveling.
- Carpooling can be a good option as it is pocket as well as environment-friendly.
- More CNG vehicles should be promoted and the facilitation of more CNG filling stations is needed.
- Better maintenance of roads- Roads around Nehru Place in Delhi waste a lot of time due to their bad management.
- Shared taxis- Ola and Uber are famous in Delhi and should be encouraged by common people.
- Solar Power- Solar-powered equipment should be employed.
What’s being done?
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has been quite active in curbing the monster of air pollution in Delhi. The various schemes being adopted by Delhi to make their air breathable, are:
- Recently Delhi CM announced a 10-point ‘winter action plan ‘ focussing on dust control by use of Pusa bio composer, installing smog towers, checking waste burning, and vehicular emissions.
- Pusa bio-decomposer is a solution to stubble burning.
- The Smog tower erected at Connaught place has been a success.
- Green war rooms would be strengthened.
- The country will have its first Eco-park to manage e-waste, in Delhi.
- Ensuring clean fuel to be used in thermal power plants in the NCR region.
- BS-IV standards for vehicular technology and fuel were implemented by the Government, in the year 2010.
- The year 2016 in Delhi saw a new concept of Odd-Even, a measure to reduce vehicular emissions and traffic congestion was introduced.
- The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been in effect in Delhi since 2017.
- GRAP sets out guidelines that are to be implemented in Delhi-NCR when the air pollution becomes nastier.
It’s a collective responsibility…
A lone gram can’t bust the oven…just like an individual cannot win this war against pollution, we need to stand against it unitedly. Today maybe it’s a major problem faced in one state but soon it will encircle all of us in its grey smoke.
Today the news channels are covering the news of accidents occurring due to smog on the Yamuna Expressway, soon they will be found on your city’s highways.
So rise, people, before it’s too late for seeing clearly through the smog. Stand united to fight away the black demon of pollution before it engulfs our lungs and eventually all of us. Follow the rules set by your state government or suffer like Delhiites.
Ending with some beautifully written lines,
“Watch out for the smoke,
Rising like a black cloak;
Won’t stop until it soaks,
Every beautiful color my folks”…!!..
–by Sambhavi Yadav