Rope in other states too
The Aam Aadmi Party government in the national capital called the odd-even number plate experiment a success on Friday, hours before its 15-day trial period in the city ends. Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai argued that the experiment succeeds because of the people’s determination to follow the formula. He went on to praise the contribution of other agencies involved in the implementation of this scheme, namely the Delhi traffic police, transport department, and civil defence volunteers. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the people of the city to continue with the scheme voluntarily “as it is in the interest of our children”. He said that the pollution levels in Delhi had come down, and lesser congestion on the roads was another benefit. On Wednesday, the state government had said that the scheme will be implemented again after being discussed in a review meeting scheduled to be convened by Kejriwal on January 18. Despite the AAP government’s best intentions, it is still too early to call it a success, considering that overall pollution levels still remain high. Suffice to say, the pollutants in Delhi’s air are not merely generated by the city itself. Surrounded by industrial clusters in Ghaziabad, Faridabad, and elsewhere, Delhi does not stand in isolation. Moreover, brick kilns located across the national capital are major emitters of pollution. The process involved in baking bricks involves burning agricultural waste and coal, among other products. According to a recent study, there are approximately 1100 brick kilns around the national capital. Another source of pollution is thermal power projects that burn coal to generate electricity. Although some are located in Delhi, the emissions from others in Punjab and Haryana also significantly add to the pollution levels. Another source is the burning of crops in Punjab and Haryana, where farmers burn their fields after Kharif harvest. This practice comes in handy for farmers as they prepare their fields for sowing Rabi crops. However, the thick smoke which emanates as a result of setting fields on fire poses serious health hazards for people. The smoke contains toxic chemicals which cause respiratory problems and other diseases. Last year, it was reported that shows that regardless of the measures taken, the burning of paddy crop residues in Punjab has increased since the end of October, reaching the season’s high in terms of the number of incidents. Therefore, it is amply clear that any attempt to significantly reduce Delhi’s pollution levels would require the cooperation of other states.