The Delhi government’s new proposal for combating air pollution is raising many apprehensions. Recently Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that government will allow the plying of vehicles with odd and even number plates on alternate days as a measure to reduce the surging pollution levels. While some are mocking the policy to be a naïve one, others are expressing support in favor of the government. Though there is time for the policy to unfurl itself on the streets of Delhi, the matter demands urgent attention and practical solutions, for Delhi has recently earned the embarrassing title of being the most polluted city in the world.
According to reports the presence of particulate matters in Delhi’s atmosphere is 16 times more than the desired level. The situation worsens with the arrival of winter season when the whole city gets engulfed by highly invisible smog. The Diwali bash too had its share in making the air toxic. Pollution is chocking Delhiites with accidents, respiratory ailments like breathing trouble and asthma, and even death while breathing the pollutants for a long time. There are also issues like irritation of eyes, heart and kidney troubles, and even psychological problems like rising stress level and attention deficit syndrome. It is considered that children, especially in their formative e years, and the elderly as the worst hit group. Situation is not too different in the adjacent belts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, with burning of crop strays causing hazy skies.
The Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court has equally lambasted at the degrading air quality in the National Capital Territory. The latter had even said that “we are living in a gas chamber”. The National Green Tribunal was highly critical of the administration saying that it needs to take immediate efforts. Many foreign embassies in the capital are also worried about the damages their employees and the families may have to bear in the future. In fact, Norway has marked the Indian posting for its diplomats as difficult. The US embassy too has placed a series of air purifiers throughout its premises after seeing prolonged low numbers in the air quality index.
It is in this context has the Delhi government has decided to take various measures like closing the thermal power plants at Badarpur and Raj Ghat, allowing the entry of trucks from 10 pm or 11pm instead of 9 pm, implementation of Euro norms VI, getting PWD to vacuum clean the city’s lanes and promote horticulture etc. Considering the graveness of issue, the administration should try to integrate citizen groups, NGOs, and other stakeholders towards making the anti pollution program a success. Advance warnings and guidelines should be issued to the public, along with creating awareness among all the strata of the population.