Pollution has taken deadly dimension in Delhi and other surrounding areas, which together with national capital is called NCR (National Capital Region). To ward off pollution during the festival of Diwali, the Supreme Court had banned the sale of fire crackers in second week of October. The order of the Supreme Court proved to be beneficial for the time being and despite the use of some fireworks, the air in Delhi was worth breathing. However, lately with the onset of second week of November, the air has become toxic and unbreathable.
The Meteorological Department classifies air quality on a scale, ranging from ideal to moderate, unhealthy, very unhealthy and hazardous. If the level of particulate matter (PM) is at 2.5 and the numerical value of the pollutants ranges from 300 to 500, it is classified as hazardous. Keeping this in mind, it is shocking that on 8th and 9th November, in many parts of Delhi, the amount of pollution rose above 500 . The rising levels of pollution have evidently severely degraded the air quality of Delhi, and have had a consequent detrimental impact on its residents. According to Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the current levels of pollution threatens the lives of around thirty thousand people in Delhi, having severe health impacts on infants and the old.
The critical situation in Delhi has garnered a great degree of attention. The National Green Tribunal and the Supreme Court have attempted to raise awareness and direct attention. The National Human Rights Commission has intervened and served notices to the Delhi government and other agencies responsible for ensuring the presence of a healthy environment. It is unfortunate that agencies that possess executive and legislative powers fail to take this issue seriously. Despite repeated occurrences of severe pollution and deteriorating condition of air quality, executing authorities have proven to be largely inactive. The Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal have attempted to direct attention; however, they cannot implement policies. Governments and their agencies have to do the needful.
The hazardous level of air pollution is a result of inadequate policy planning in the past few decades. Many people have been blaming stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana for the present environmental crisis in Delhi. However, this is far from the truth. The farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have been burning stubble for many years, but poor air quality is a relatively recent development. In fact, the real reason behind pollution lies in the capital and NCR itself – the rising number of vehicles along with its harmful emissions have been polluting the air throughout the year. It is not as noticeable during summer because the pollutants rise far above in the upper stratas of the atmosphere. Unfortunately, with the onset of winter, the temperature falls, and pollutants start descending towards the ground and lower layers of the atmosphere. These become the main reason for the pollution in Delhi-NCR. The low speed of wind further aggravates the current situation.
Union Minister Dr Harshvardhan has rightly said that no surgical strike can be made on pollution. NCR and its residents are paying the price for so called development. One of the standards of measure is the ridiculously large number of vehicles owned by residents. Another is the uncontrolled amount of constructions that take place. Construction works go on throughout the year, and contribute to pollution. It is unfortunate that industrial development has not been accompanied by development of good civil sense amongst the people. Residents within NCR continue to burn garbage . There is an inadequate garbage disposal system within Delhi, and a large of number of surrounding areas is not covered by its system of garbage disposal.
Delhi is a big city and its air pollutants need adequate space to diffuse in the environment. However, unchecked development in the surrounding area of the capital has proved to be a bane rather than a boon. The pollutants within the city NCR have been wreaking havoc in people’s lives, and it is high time executive authorities provide adequate and planned attention to it, for the well-being of not only the infrastructure and machinery in the city, but also its people.
-Contributed by Kriti
Picture Credits: rediff.com