Progress on pollution
The Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi has made progress in its bid to tackle the menace of air pollution. The State Cabinet has recently authorised the Public Works Department to vacuum-clean roads to reduce dust pollution in the Capital. A Delhi government official said that dust from Delhi’s roads and construction sites worsen the city’s air pollution crisis. Manual sweeping of roads, according to him, contributes further to the problem, as fine particles fly up in the process and remain suspended on the surface. “PWD will engage agencies. It will not hire or purchase the machines. Along with this, greening (sic) of empty spaces has also started. A massive plantation drive will be undertaken just before the monsoon,” said a Delhi government official. According to a recent report by IIT Kanpur, road dust has been identified as the as the single biggest source (38 percent) of PM 2.5. To the uninitiated, road dust is earthen material or dirt that becomes airborne, primarily by the friction of tires moving on unpaved dirt roads and dust-covered paved roads. The Delhi government seems to be making good on its promise of introducing mechanical sweeping of roads. If these roads are swept twice a month, road dust emission will see a significant reduction in road dust emissions, according to the IIT Kanpur study. To mitigate the amount of dust in Delhi’s air, the AAP government has already implemented penalties on defaulters and plantation drives on unpaved footpaths and central verges. Besides these measures, the government has also proposed heavy fines on those trucks and vehicles that do not meet pollution standards. However, it did not meet much success. Late last year, the AAP government, under the orders of the apex court, took a bold initiative—the odd-even experiment—to tackle air pollution. Although the success of the odd-even experiment is still a matter of debate, there was a definite attempt at finding solutions. But a lot more must be done.