While we are busy finding out threats in the terrorists or the neighbouring nation, the terror to the country has slowly crept in via our National Capital Territory. It is none other than the increasing air pollution in the city!
Delhi has always has been the talk of the town in regard to pollution every year before and after the Diwali season. This year was no exception but with increased intensity. The air pollution levels in the capital have not only crossed the yearly benchmark but have reached emergency levels. When we are busy celebrating festivities and engaging ourselves in the government and political discussions, the city has been engrossed in the clouds of smog! According to the Environmental Performance Index, it is a matter of shame that the capital of our country is tagged as the “most heavily polluted capital city in the world”.
Delhi has been the city having unhealthy pollution levels, throughout the year, but the air pollution level has shown a tremendous hike making it one of the worst in terms of air quality index.
Also read Post-Diwali Dilemmas – Smog or Pollution
What causes Delhi pollution?
It is important that we understand and analyse the cause of pollution in the NCR. What actually causes the air quality index to be so poor and detrimental to anybody residing in the city:
- Completely unplanned setting up of industries in and around the city. The industrial boom around Delhi has been a major contributor to the degrading air quality. Reports suggest that most of the industries that have been set up are not located in the approved zones. A mere 20% of them have properly approved establishment while the others have been put up haphazardly with minimum to no precautions of the waste generated by them. The unfiltered smoke released by them has a major role to play in the present AQI.
- There has been an upsurge in the number of vehicles in the capital city. Although the metro services have been an improved mode of transportation in the city, the number of vehicles has been constantly seen an increase. Reports suggest that the number of vehicles plying on the streets of Delhi is treble the numbers which ply in other metro cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata.
- Lack of treatment of the air pollutants that are released from the industries which have been established in and around the city. Besides, an increase in the number of diesel vehicles has been an addition to this pollution levels.
- To add to these, the households in the city have also been a major contributor to this pollution. Coal-burning in plants to produce electricity, ionizers in electronic gadgets have made the environment of the city detrimental to a healthy life.
Some facts and figures
The following facts and figures will provide you with an overview of the status the capital city has received in terms of the air pollution level.
- The city has a carbon monoxide emission of 6000 micrograms per cubic meter, which is extremely harmful to a healthy life in the city. The approved amount of CO in any place is 2000 microgram per cubic meter and Delhi has crossed the safety limits.
- World Health Organization (WHO) states that air pollution has been the fifth major killer in the country.
- After measuring the outdoor air pollution levels in 1600 cities in 91 countries, Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) report, has stated that the PM 2.5 emission in the city is the highest in the world in the year 2014, which is followed by Beijing.
- The Air Quality Index in the present months has been hovering around 319 which is claimed to be ‘hazardous’ in terms of the level of pollution.
- The constant increase in the concentration of PM2.5 levels in the atmosphere is a major cause of an increase in respiratory diseases and a proponent of lung cancer.
How the government contributes to controlling pollution?
The government needs to take up adequate measures in order to control the increasing levels of air pollution which can create serious health hazards. Here are a few policies adopted by the Delhi government in order to control the rapid increase in the pollutant level in Delhi air:
- Enforcement teams have been deployed in order to keep a check on the vehicles which cause pollution and verify if the vehicles hold a PUC certificate.
- With an approach to control pollution caused by vehicles, the government has put on a ban on driving commercial vehicles or public transport which are more than 15 years old. Those that are driven using conventional fuel and also buses driven by diesel has been prohibited from plying on the Delhi streets.
- The ‘odd and even’ measure adopted by the government is actually a great initiative to control the mass emission of vehicles on a regular basis. This control measure implemented for a few days actually helped in reducing the pollutant emission.
- The Mass Rapid Transport System (MTRS) is being planned in order to provide an affordable, non-polluting and useful system of transit from Delhi, which is largely rail-based. This system has a plan for integrating with other modes of transportation.
- For the reduction of Sulphur and benzene in the fuels, lead free petroleum is been distributed in pumps. The lead content and Sulphur content on the vehicular emissions are disastrous for the quality of air.
What we can see from this, is that the government has plans to address the threat, but lack of proper implementation takes Delhi pollution to a serious condition.
What part should citizens play?
It is us who needs to seriously think about contributing to the preservation of the environment. It is not far when the entire country will be grasped by the demons in the air.
- Afforestation shouldn’t be a part of EVS textbooks, the Delhi citizens should collectively take up the endeavour to plant trees in the locality by organizing a committee.
- Efficient use of sustainable sources of energy. The city receives ample sunlight which needs to be utilized in the form of solar energy for reducing the adversities coming from burning coal. It is time that the theoretical knowledge about alternative sources is implemented in reality, for a safer life.
- Car polling is another major way of controlling vehicular emission. Opting for public transport like metro services and taking a pool can be an effective way to contribute to the Kejriwal government’s odd-even scheme.
- Keeping a check on your transports pollution level and opting for CNG can be a small step towards fighting the inevitable enemy of air pollution in the city.
Thus, it is not just the government. It is time that we should collectively put in thoughts about the seriousness of the hazard which the pollution has started creating. It is time that the government, media, citizens actually identify the real threat to the nation such that we are gifted with a world full of happiness. Essentially it needs to be recognized that a clean and green environment will help our nation prosper and it is time that we all identify the largest enemy to the life of the citizens. Time has arrived to gear up and get our atmosphere “Swachch”!