Six things govt did to control pollution, but how effective were they?
With the city’s air continuing to remain ‘very poor’ with a reading of 345 on the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s air quality index, the BJP and the Congress accused the AAP-led Delhi government of inaction.Updated: Oct 25, 2020, 05:57 IST
With Delhi facing an impending air crisis -- a glimpse of which the city got on Friday when the air quality plunged to ‘severe’ levels in at least 12 of the 35 pollution monitoring stations -- the Delhi government is scrambling to firefight the annual air problem. But it may be a case of “too little, too late”, say pollution experts.
With the city’s air continuing to remain ‘very poor’ with a reading of 345 on the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s air quality index, the BJP and the Congress accused the AAP-led Delhi government of inaction.
“We have asked the government to get the roads repaired, improve the public transport system and plan flyovers on congested road stretches,” said BJP MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, leader of the opposition in the Delhi Assembly.
Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary pointed out that even with a lot of work left to be done to control local sources of pollution, the AAP government is busy pinning the blame on neighbouring states for stubble burning.
“Stubble burning is only a component; we also have vehicular emissions, industrial pollution, unchecked construction activities and open burning,” Chaudhury said.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, said for concrete results, agencies have to work round the year. “Last moment measures will not work. Winter action is only firefighting,” she said.
HT takes a look at six steps taken by the Delhi government to control pollution and their effectiveness.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, earlier this month, had announced the tree transplantation policy, aimed at increasing the green cover and keeping better checks on construction agencies.
But this was met with criticism from experts, who said transplantation seldom ensures survival of trees. Bharati Chaturvedi, founder and director, Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group, said, “Which neighbourhood doesn’t need trees? The policy isn’t about saving trees, but the loss of several hundreds of trees from a neighbourhood.”
‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign
In a city where over 10 million vehicles are registered, vehicular emission control is crucial. Towards that end, the government launched the ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign, to get motorists to turn off the ignition while idling at traffic signals. Over 2,500 volunteers have been deployed at over 100 traffic signals to make the campaign a success.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai had announced stricter monitoring of construction sites across the city. All major sites, operating in an area over 2,000 sqm, were ordered to mandatorily install two antismog guns, for regular water sprinkling. Other measures such as covering the site by tin sheets and covering construction material with green covers have also been made mandatory. But dust still continues to fly thick, say experts.
The government, in early October, started spraying bio decomposer, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), on crop stubble to turn it into manure. “Even though we do not have much farm land, we have still taken an initiative to spray the bio decomposer in rural pockets,” Rai had said. This again did not have the desired effect as a majority of farm fires happen outside Delhi.
The Delhi government had announced the setting up of smog towers in Connaught Place in 10 months. A smog tower sucks the polluted air, which is purified by the multiple layers of filters, before being recirculated. However, the effectiveness of such structures in open spaces has been questioned by experts.
Electric Vehicle Policy
The government’s electrical vehicle policy was notified in August offers subsidies on the purchase of electric vehicles. The government is encouraging citizens to move towards electric vehicles but it will many more months for the policy to evoke any results, said road transport experts.