The city got a figurative pat on the back from the World Health Organization (WHO) in its report praising the government’s effort in combating pollution and making the environs citizen friendly.
The report 'The urban environment and health: Delhi stands up to the challenge' praises the introduction of CNG for running commercial transport vehicles.
While the early results of switch to CNG were encouraging, the levels of respirable particulate matter went up by 40 per cent in 2009. The report does not blame the government but points out at the increased number of vehicles, which went up from 3.6 million 2001 to 4.8 million in 2006.
Even as officials discussed unplanned urbanisation as a challenge for public health on World Health Day, they appreciated Delhi's efforts in building its infrastructure, thanks to the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
The officials did not shy away from defending the increase in pollution levels saying it was 'temporary.'
CW Games a boon
The Commonwealth Games seem to have come as a blessing in disguise for the common man. “Improving the city infrastructure involved better street spacing. Part of it was making cycling tracks alongside footpaths — thereby promoting the use of non-motorised vehicles,” said Rakesh Mishra, engineer-in-chief, PWD.
“We are worried about the fast increasing poor urban population. We will be launching the health insurance for the below poverty line by July,” said Delhi health minister Kiran Walia.
Walia, however, expressed worries for the migrant labourers, most of who don’t have identity proofs or BPL cards to avail health benefits.
“Construction related to the upcoming Games is bringing in migrants from outside Delhi. I don’t think we can take the burden of providing health cover to the migrants,” said Walia.
According to official records, Delhi has more than 1,500 slums housing millions without proper sanitation and hygiene.