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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Air may be clean now, but need to plan ahead

India can begin to work on its air pollution problem and roll out NCAP innovatively because public outrage is currently contained. This is the season to put in plans.

opinion Updated: Aug 12, 2019 08:36 IST
Students planting trees as a part of Mega Plantation drive by the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, Government of Delhi, at Issapur Forest, in New Delhi.
Students planting trees as a part of Mega Plantation drive by the Ministry of Forest and Wildlife, Government of Delhi, at Issapur Forest, in New Delhi.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
         

People all across North India have been telling me with great relief about the clean air these days. I am not sure if this is the case everywhere, but it points to a cycle of public action. We stay calm when it’s monsoon, and are furious about the air October onwards.

But this won’t help — the air is already saturated with toxins, except that they are being washed off. When the heavens stop hose-piping them, the pollutants will enter our bodies.

India can begin to work on its air pollution problem and roll out NCAP innovatively because public outrage is currently contained. This is the season to put in plans. A priority should be to handle construction waste and dust. Some norms exist, but contractors need training. This is their slow season, and they can be readied for being part of the solution. Citizens should also be trained up to monitor construction activities. Preventing pollution is better than closing all construction down. Second, a clear message should be spread that people should step out and exercise now, because when, later in the year, the AQI touches 250 and more, no one ought to even ask children to do a basic outdoor sports day. Schools and event organisers plan way ahead, so state agencies have to keep pace to protect public health. A whole protocol must be rolled out so even the poorest child can benefit. India has to break the cycle of cheer and jeer about the air with positive action in good times.

(The author is the founder and director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group)

First Published: Aug 12, 2019 01:29 IST

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