Going beyond immediate relief
Winter is the time of toxic air and as the season peaks, the quality of air gets worse. The seasonal phenomena, however is not one to happen suddenly but the compounded intensity of this is the result of prolonged neglect over years of reckless urbanisation and haphazard development. The solution to the problem, has to inevitably be one that addresses it in a similar manner. However, with respect to the worsening situation in the National Capital with regard to air quality, another immediate step to curb air pollution is propose. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation has proposed a budget of Rs 26 crore to build smog towers at 26 places in the capital next year. Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers. They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters. This is a provisions to control air pollution in the light of noxious smog resulting from farm fires and stubble burning, compounded by unfavourable weather pushing pollution in Delhi-NCR towards the "emergency" zone last month to the extent that authorities were compelled to order closure of schools. The civic body will require 10 per cent of the MLALAD funds as it invests its whole machinery in the execution of the project. What must be reiterated time and again is that the problem of air pollution in Delhi is a result of years of neglect and immediate steps like smog tower and even odd-even for that matter are nothing more than band-aid measures. What the city needs is more trees; an expansion in green cover is the enduring solution to the compounding air problem. Although the Aam Admi Party-led Delhi government is consistently doing a commendable job in making the city a better place and managing funds for it in good novel ways, there must be a systemic provision necessitating planting trees so as to clean up the environment in more lasting ways and substantially. Installing smog towers in Delhi can be an experiment, but engineering solutions cannot be the ultimate relief. Instilling the culture to plant as many trees as possible and increase the green cover has to be a necessary first step. Solutions such as for every time a public place is hired, a sapling must be planted. Systemic monitoring of these small efforts must become a reality.