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How did Delhi air become so bad? Authorities need to answer these 15 questions

Ignoring the lessons learnt from smog in 2016, the national capital has been allowed to once again turn into a gas chamber. Delhi asks why.

delhi Updated: Nov 14, 2017 14:22 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times
Delhi pollution,Delhi smog,Delhi air quality
Delhi is living through another year of pollution crisis and experts say it might just get worse than 2016.(Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

The smog of November 2016 brought Delhi face-to-face with the dangers of air pollution like never before. Smoke filled the air not just outdoors but breathing became difficult in the comforts of one’s home too.

“It’s deadly,” people were often heard saying in drawing room conversations about the air that could now be seen and smelt. The only solace was that the authorities were at least aware of the source of smog — stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, weather conditions, vehicular pollution, construction dust, emissions from industries in the NCR.

Sadly, the lesson has gone unlearnt. A year on, Delhi is living through a similar pollution crisis and experts say it might just get worse than 2016.

Who is to be blamed?

Here are 15 questions that authorities need to answer:

The Delhi government

1. Why weren’t real-time AQI, health advisories publicised with hoardings, ads, dos and don’ts?

2. Why wasn’t bus fleet augmented?

3. Why weren’t polluting vehicles checked?

4. Why weren’t measures — sprinkling on roads, banning construction activities and entry of trucks — taken sooner?

5. Why wasn’t meeting sought sooner with Union environment minister to escalate issue?

Civic bodies

1. Why have radio frequency identification smart tags not been installed at toll collection booths to reduce congestion?

2. Why have waste burning and fire at dumping sites not been curbed?

3. Why did it take two days to enforce hiked parking fees as per GRAP?

4. Why weren’t roads vacuum-cleaned regularly?

5. Why was water sprinkling not undertaken on time?

The Centre

1. Why wasn’t there coordination with northern states on stubble burning?

2. Why has Centre not been able to enforce tighter emission norms for coal-fired power plants?

3. Why hasn’t NHAI completed Peripheral Expressway to decongest Delhi and NCR?

4. Why is there no advance pollution warning system?

5. Why are there no sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide norms for industries?

First Published: Nov 14, 2017 10:56 IST