Millennium Post

Steps taken

There has been little or no improvement to the poor air quality in Delhi. Reports indicate that similar bad-air days are expected shortly too even as the flight and train services have been affected in the past week due to fog during the mornings. The Air Quality Index was around an inferior 348 and the 24-hour rolling average of PM 10 and PM 2.5 touched poor and very poor range respectively on Friday morning, according to data collated by government agencies. In the fight against air pollution, the apex court on Friday approved the use of a standard pollution code for Delhi-NCR to categorise the severity of the pollutants accounted for in the air, akin to the system used in Beijing. Pollution levels will be classified into four categories — moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very Severe or emergency. The court order comes nearly a month after the capital saw pollution levels rise to alarming levels. The Delhi government has initiated a few steps to deal with rising pollution, including the shutting down of the Badarpur power plant, halting construction activity, vacuuming cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads, among other measures. Recently the top court has also banned the sale of fireworks in the capital to curb rising pollution levels. The current state of affairs is not down to recent developments. The apathy shown by the political class over environmental concerns through the years is responsible for the toxic smog that engulfs this city. The Dikshit administration did introduce CNG, but that remains a temporary fix. In a recent column, Sarath Guttikunda, a leading expert on urban air pollution in India, illustrated some of the long-term policy measures Delhi needs to take. But the crux of his column talked about what it means to take the long view. “Real policy is not short-term emergency measures that are defensive in nature,” writes Guttikunda. “We need a proactive strategy spanning multiple years, and we need to act fast, local and through multiple agencies across multiple political parties to take the long view on air pollution in Delhi.” There are various causes responsible for Delhi’s bad air and some of the solutions required to tackle them will involve consistent efforts from government agencies and responsible citizens beyond the current news cycle. Families are already moving out to the city to avoid the pollution.
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