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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Citizens submit ideas to control Delhi’s winter pollution

Scientists from IIT Kanpur have also been awarded a project by the Central Pollution Control Board to experiment with cloud-seeding and artificial rain to bring down pollution in Delhi.

delhi Updated: Sep 23, 2019 06:29 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Commuters wearing anti-pollution masks as they rode amid a thick layer of smog at Rajpath in New Delhi in November 2018.
Commuters wearing anti-pollution masks as they rode amid a thick layer of smog at Rajpath in New Delhi in November 2018. (Sonu Mehta/HT File PHOTO)
         

Congestion pricing, bus aggregators, gigantic air purifiers, artificial rain and car pooling – these are some of the broad ideas that the Delhi government has received from citizens, in the first week of September, on how to fight the winter pollution in the national capital, according to officials familiar with the matter.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had, on September 6, launched an emailing address, cm4cleanair@gmail.com, seeking ideas and suggestions from Delhiites on how to fight severe levels of pollution when smoke from burning crop stubble turns the city into a virtual “gas chamber” every year.

“We have received around 1,200 suggestions from citizens. Many were out-of-the-box and innovative ideas and have the potential to be implemented in future, if not now. The government has already taken up a few ideas, which can be implemented at this stage. The feasibility of others is being explored,” said Jasmine Shah, vice-chairman of Dialogue and Development Commission, a Delhi government think tank.

One such innovative suggestion was to tie water sprinklers behind all two-wheelers plying in the city so that when they move, they sprinkle water on the road, which in turn would help bring down dust and reduce pollution.

There were also suggestions to create vertical gardens, with species such as aloe vera, money plants and snake plants, on all public buildings and public spaces.

Singapore, for instance, through an incentive programme, replaces greenery lost on the ground from development with greenery in the sky in the form of high-rise terrace gardens.

“We wanted people to come up with suggestions that are innovative and out of the box. Some may sound odd but exploring them may lead us to feasible solutions,” said a senior government official.

While the government has already taken up a few concepts such as ‘ek ghar - ek paudha’ (one family - one tree) which came in as suggestions and would be implementing them soon, work on a few other concepts, such as launching bus aggregators, has been going on for long and is in the final stages. The most common suggestion was to prevent stubble burning from taking place.

Concepts such as congestion pricing, where vehicle owners need to pay extra to enter the busiest and most congested areas are already being enforced in cities such as Singapore, Stockholm and London.

“Congestion pricing helps to bring down traffic snarls and improve air pollution in the busiest and most congested parts of the city. Cars tend to avoid these parts as owners will be charged extra. The RFID scheme which is presently being used to charge environment compensation on commercial vehicles entering Delhi is also a type of congestion pricing,” said Sewa Ram, an urban transport systems design expert and a faculty member at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA).

A senior official said the government’s proposal to launch a helpline and deliver tree saplings at people’s doorsteps was also prompted by similar ideas, which the government received by email. One such suggestion said that each family or a household should plant a tree and adopt it – ek ghar, ek paudha.

The government is working on concepts such as app-based bus aggregrators. A draft policy has been prepared and it is now in its advanced stage, said another official familiar with the developments.

Scientists from IIT Kanpur have also been awarded a project by the Central Pollution Control Board to experiment with cloud-seeding and artificial rain to bring down pollution in Delhi. While the installation of gigantic air purifiers in the city was suggested, scientists from the NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) are experimenting with a smaller variant named Wayu, which caters to an area of 500sqm around it.

“Xi’an city in China is experimenting with large solar-powered air purifiers that are 100m tall. Bad air from the ground level is sucked in, purified and released at a height of 100m so that good air can travel far and wide. These purifiers have various types of filters that bring down pollutants such as PM2.5, PM10, SO2 and NO2,” said Mukesh Khare, a professor at IIT-Delhi and coordinator, Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air.

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 06:29 IST

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