Will Delhi Breathe Easy?

As the air quality in Delhi has deteriorated drastically, Indian government declared ‘Delhi air pollution- an emergency’. Now the question arises, “Will Delhi Breathe Easy?”
Recently the level of 2.5PM (Particulate Matter) reached an alarming level of 999 which is more than 16 times of the safe limit i.e. 60 at different parts of the city, thus forcing the government to shut down construction sites and coal powered power plants till the situation gets under control. Schools also remained closed for many days as the concentration of harmful particles and smog increased to such an extent that it was impossible to measure the air quality with most of the air quality measuring instruments. The main concern is about the particulate matter that is so deadly that it is capable of reaching the lungs and also to breach the blood-brain barrier and thus resulting to be fatal.
As it is an emergency, measures are to be taken at the earliest to minimize the damage. As the Government is yet to take any serious step towards the situation, the main areas of concern are:-
Burning of stubble by farmers in their farmland- Delhi is surrounded by Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as its neighbours, and the survey reports that the basic reason for the smog is due to the smoke which is generated by the burning of stubble by the farmers in their farmland. Farmers allegedly blamed the government for not providing them with waste disposal facilities and as a result they are forced to burn their farm waste, as they need to prepare their farmland for the next crop. Now, Delhi CM has appealed the central government to intervene with the state governments to find a solution to the practice of crop burning, but as a result ‘The Blame Game’ continues without any result.
Free flow of traffic- A disturbing report has been revealed by NGT (National Green Tribunal), and the report states that everyday nearly 3 lakh liters of petrol is burnt by the vehicles stuck in the traffic or red light signals in the National Capital. Though NGT has passed a slew of directions earlier to construct a national level as well as a state level monitoring system to monitor the movement of traffic but everything went in vain.
Heavy smoke emitting diesel vehicles- Delhi government introduced many programs to curb the problem of pollution by vehicles, such as “CNG Program” and “Even-Odd Policy” but they did not come-up with fruitful results. According to the “CNG Program” The Supreme Court directed The Ministry of Public Transport to run all the public transport vehicles with CNG to reduce the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) but the pollution level rose again because on the other hand more than 1000 personal vehicles are added every day and many of them run on diesel. Another rule was “Even-Odd Policy”- according to this policy vehicles ending with odd number will be allowed to run on the roads on an odd calendar date and the vehicles with registered with an even ending number would be allowed to run on even calendar dates and on Sunday even-odd policy will be exempted. This policy would include all privately owned vehicles including vehicles used by ministers and bureaucrats but the vehicles running on CNG and other emergency vehicles such as PCR vans, ambulances, fire fighting vehicles will be exempted from this policy. This policy was previously implemented by Beijing in the year 2008 during Summer Olympics, so basically the idea was extracted from there, but its yet to be implemented fully.
Reports suggest that as many 10000 people die every year due to pollution levels in Delhi. Doctors seem to have a single advice for those who are suffering from respiratory diseases- “Leave Delhi”. Now the question arises here “Will Delhi Breathe Easy?” The answer is within us because a small change by every individual can bring down miracles to reality.

                                                                                                                     Sagar Bhattacharjee

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