With the deadly smog putting the health of over one crore people of Delhi at risk, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday announced that schools in the city would remain closed for three days and all construction/demolition works would be suspended for five days.
Some other decisions taken by the government included a ban on all diesel generator sets for 10 days, except at hospitals and in emergencies, supply of power to unauthorised colonies that use generator sets, closing down of coal-based Badarpur power plant for 10 days, vacuum cleaning of roads from November 10 and water sprinkling on roads from today. Besides, the Delhi government also decided that it would launch an app to monitor the burning of leaves.
Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain today said that preparation for the Odd-Even scheme has started. The situation would be reviewed on Friday and then the date of its implementation would be decided.
However, all these measures are like addressing the symptoms, not the source of the smog that has made people’s life hell.
Kejriwal had earlier blamed crop burning in the neighbouring states for the heavy smog and pollution. In the name of politics, what Kejriwal missed is the fact that stubble burning by farmers is an old practice and so is the smog problem that has been hitting the national capital increasingly since 2008. This year it has gone several notches up.
In an article published by Business Standard way back in 2012, environmentalist Sunita Narain had highlighted how pollution level in the city has been rising since 2008. She had said then that it does not help that NASA satellite images a thick plume of smoke caused by the agricultural fires are reaching Delhi.
Among the reasons for the smog then, Narain had cited the drastic increase in Delhi’s automobile population and continuing sale of diesel vehicles. She had said, “the city needs its second-generation reforms on air pollution fast.”
In the four years since the publication of this article, Arvind Kejriwal beat Congress and occupied the CM’s chair, promising people of Delhi a better city.
Arvind Kejriwal’s failure on multiple fronts as Delhi CM is now no more a secret. Hence, he is seen adopting desperate ways, be it in politics or tackling pollution. What is the point of keeping children away from school if they breathe the same poisonous air at home?
The smog problem in the city is the result of multiple factors. Such as:
a) Entire Delhi is perpetually in the construction mode. Not only flyovers and Delhi metro, you can hardly find any residential area when some construction work is not going on. These construction works keep adding tonnes of particulates to the city’s air. The need of the hour is not a temporary ban on construction but a comprehensive policy to regulate construction in all areas including the unauthorised colonies.
b) Delhi is getting dry but it doesn’t have water harvesting facilities. Ironical it sounds that Kejriwal government wants to sprinkle water on roads to contain dust.
c) Garbage burning is a big source of smoke in Delhi sky. Can’t Delhi think of setting up of Plasma-based waste treatment plant?
d) Odd-even scheme is good only for a few days. It can’t be implemented for a long time. Delhi needs to stand together against increasing the number vehicles. Kejriwal government, which has been rewarded with 67 MLAs by the Delhi residents, can play a crucial role in bringing a consensus in this regard, but only if the CM can think beyond politics.
These are just a few examples. Arvind Kejriwal government should think of the sources of pollution and the solution. Temporary measures won’t help if he doesn’t wish to experience the wrath of Delhi residents in his political career.