The air quality in the world’s most polluted capital city have dropped to levels likened to smoking 50 cigarettes a day
The air quality in the world’s most polluted capital city have dropped to levels likened to smoking 50 cigarettes a day and the city residents have no other option but to wake up to a ‘smoggy’ sky with low visibility. This blanket os smog has led to cancellation and delay of public transport, primarily trains and flights, causing much hindrance to the movement of the people. The low visibility also resulted in accidents across the city, notably a 24 vehicle pile-up on the Yamuna Expressway. A health emergency has also been declared by the Delhi government as a thick cloud of smog engulfs the city. The Indian Medical Association has also advised the citizens to stay indoors witnessing a serious threat to their health due to the alarming level of pollution. According to the WHO, PM 2.5 levels should not exceed 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period and 10 micrograms per cubic meter on average over a year. But in Delhi, PM 2.5 levels have repeatedly surged to almost 1000, which is so high that it’s literally off the charts of many pollution monitoring devices. So, how can we overcome the dreadful situation? Well, here are some steps that can be taken (or have been taken), which can reduce the pollution level significantly:-
1. The first and the foremost being a plantation drive. The Delhi government must launch a campaign to plant trees in the city. Only fresh air can counter the excessive amount of pollutants that have enveloped the air of Delhi-NCR.
2. The NGT has directed the state governments of Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to immediately ban the burning of crop residue. In earlier orders, the NGT had also noted that the practice was contributing to the rising air pollution in the NCR and thereby, this move might give the residents the much-needed relief from pollution.
3. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued directions to all authorities to strictly implement earlier orders regarding the ban on burning of waste and fine on the emission of construction dust. The bench called for an action as well as a “list of offenders” from all authorities on the next date of hearing. Tightening the norms may augur well for reducing the pollution level in the city.
4. Odd/even rule, wherein cars with odd-numbered registration plates would ply on odd dates and those with even-numbered registration plates would do so on even dates, will come into effect on Monday. The idea is to reduce congestion as well as to reduce pollution resulting from vehicular emissions. However, this may only prove to be a temporary solution.
5. The Supreme Court has ordered that all taxis plying in the city must convert to CNG from March next year. Also, commercial vehicles which are registered before 2005 won’t be allowed to enter the national capital. Switching to environment-friendly alternative fuel is always a welcome idea.
6. The green cess on commercial vehicles entering Delhi has been hiked by the top court by a whopping 100 per cent. The SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority has directed the Delhi government to install boards notifying the new cess in 125 toll booths across Delhi. The move is expected to reduce the vehicular emissions in the city.
7. The apex court has also banned the registration of luxury SUVs and diesel cars above 2000cc in the national capital. Diesel cars are believed to be a major source of vehicular emissions. A bench headed by the Chief Justice had noted that it was not fair for rich people to buy luxury cars and thus pollute Delhi. The NGT has also asked the central and state government not to buy diesel vehicles for its personnel. It also asked public administration departments and municipal bodies to take efforts to gradually phase out diesel vehicles.