Air pollution: Too little, too late – again

Providence, therefore, is the only determinant for how clean the air we breathe will be, because administrators, policies and politicians — for yet another year — evidently aren’t
To still cling to hopes that the air would somehow turn out better this year was now a matter of delusion, not optimism (Ishant Kumar) PREMIUM
To still cling to hopes that the air would somehow turn out better this year was now a matter of delusion, not optimism (Ishant Kumar)
Updated on Nov 14, 2021 07:15 PM IST
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ByHT Editorial

There is now an inevitability to the annual air crisis in India’s national capital, with farm fires and meteorological factors that trap local emissions combining around the onset of winter to create a health emergency. Early in October, when the skies were still blue, there was some optimism that this year could turn out differently. Then came a set of predictions: Harvests would be carried out later than usual since monsoon withdrew belatedly, and winds, unusually strong in October, would take a turn for the worse in the middle of November’s first week — coinciding with Diwali on November 4. To still cling to hopes that the air would somehow turn out better this year was now a matter of delusion, not optimism.

But that is perhaps what the authorities and politicians in Delhi, the Union government, Punjab and Haryana did because as the Capital headed for a 10-day spell of mostly “severe” air pollution days, there were no efforts to stop the inevitable (except for a ban on firecrackers that was rendered largely redundant by violations within and around Delhi). It was only on November 13, a day after pollution levels spiked to their highest reading of the season, that the Supreme Court cracked the whip. Within hours, the Delhi government held an emergency meeting and shut schools and halted construction work. The following day, pollution levels did indeed plunge, but entirely due to meteorological luck. Providence, therefore, is the only determinant for how clean the air we breathe will be, because administrators, policies and politicians — for yet another year — evidently aren’t.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021