The persistence of the pollution threat | HT Editorial
Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city was 404, deteriorating from Monday’s AQI of 372 (very poor). Scientists from the India Meteorological Department said this deterioration in air quality was caused by the dense fog that enveloped the city on Tuesday.
While meteorological conditions and the geographical location of the city are responsible for the bad air, the inability of the authorities to contain and reduce local pollution sources in Delhi and the adjoining areas (vehicle exhaust, heavy industry such as power generation, illegal and small-scale industries such as brick kilns, suspended dust on the roads due to vehicular movement and construction activities, open waste burning, combustion of fuels for cooking, lighting, and heating) are also equally to blame for the crisis. In addition, state pollution boards and local urban bodies (which get funds from the Centre to fight air pollution) are severely understaffed to take immediate action against local sources of pollution on a real-time basis. This needs to be rectified. It will also be a good idea to work on a hi-resolution emission inventory, a sort of a crowd-sourcing platform, to document local sources of pollution, which often go unaddressed.
As Parliament prepares to take up a full-fledged Bill for approval to back the newly formed Commission for Air Quality Management by law, it is time to re-evaluate the non-meteorological reasons that are responsible for bad air in the National Capital Region and the kind of coordinated effort needed by all states to tackle the threat.