Air pollution in Delhi is unusually high, that breathing in open areas could be dangerous. Cigarette smoke and other toxins can damage the lungs and cause severe health problems. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 4.2 million people die due to air pollution worldwide each year.
A report by the Swiss Organization, World Air Quality Report 2020, states that out of 30 polluted cities of the world, 22 cities exist in India. Delhi ranked the most polluted capital city globally. The top 10 cities are facing extreme environmental risks. The first is Jakarta, Indonesia and the second is Delhi, India. Besides Delhi, the remaining cities that are polluted; Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Bisrakh Jalalpur, Noida, Greater Noida, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Bhiwari in Rajasthan, Faridabad, Jind, Hisar, Fatehabad, Bandhwari, Gurugram, Muzaffarpur in Bihar and lastly Yamuna Nagar, Rohtak and Dharuhera Haryana.
Around 2.2 million children in Delhi have irreversible lung damage due to the poor quality of the air. It decreases the immunity of children and leads to severe diseases like Cancer, Epilepsy, Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. It can also cause stroke, heart disease, and respiratory diseases.
Pollution decreasing in Delhi-NCR
A recent report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D), has shown that pollution of Delhi-NCR is decreasing over the last four years. The report of Economic Survey of Delhi, 2020-21 stated that since 2014, 2019 was the cleanest year.
Sagnik Dey, associate professor at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Delhi said, "Our data is showing that pollution at Delhi is decreasing. In 2020, because of the lockdown, the pollution at Delhi-NCR has anyways gone down. If we talk about the data from 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 has shown a decreasing trend and it is good.”
In the National Capital Region (NCR) many steps have been taken to curb air pollution. They are switching to cleaner BSVI fuel, CEMS monitoring has been set up across industries, and cleaner zig-zag technology has been fixed in brick kilns. The two pollution committees, The Central Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Committee works and takes action against pollution. In 2015 National Green Tribunal (NGT) announced that if anyone is found polluting the Yamuna by throwing any material or religious items, they will be fined ₹5,000. If anyone is found throwing or dumping construction waste into the river the fine will be increased to ₹50,000.
On Saturday, the government introduced a bill for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region in the Lok Sabha. Rajya Sabha has also passed this bill.
These are some of the main reasons behind Delhi’s air pollution:
- It is believed that crop burning is the main reason for air pollution that is increasing in Delhi. Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn 35 million tons of rice stubble.
- Pollution caused by the traffic menace in Delhi is another reason contributing to this pollution and smog. The air quality index has reached poor levels.
- Construction work in Delhi-NCR is also responsible for increasing dust and pollution in the air. Due to this, Delhi Government stalled numbers of works of construction in Delhi as it was dipping the air quality.
- During Diwali, there is a ban on cracker sales. According to the government, firecrackers are the main problem of pollution in Delhi, it may not be the main reason for pollution, as it builds up smog.
- In the winter season, the dust particles and pollutants in the air are unable to move. In winters, the winds get stagnant. These pollutants get locked in the air, and it affects weather conditions and results in smog, which causes various health and breathing problems.
- Garbage dumps and Industrial pollution also increase air pollution. They also build up smog in the air.
It is believed that overpopulation in the capital is the reason for air pollution. Over-population only adds up to the various types of pollution, whether it is air pollution, water pollution or noise pollution.
As we know, the air quality in the national capital has dropped to the severe category, and this is the time to take instant action to protect your health.
CPCB’s annual NAMP report data of Delhi city and station-level
(Source: Compiled from National Ambient Air Quality Status & Trends reports of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019)
Increase in NO2 pollution:
NO2 is a very dangerous air pollutant that is released when fuel burns. It happens mostly in motor vehicles, industrial processes and power generation. NO2 can affect any age group and the respiratory and circulatory systems, and the brain. Air pollution in Delhi has worsened. Nitrogen dioxide has increased drastically by about 125 per cent over the past year. NGO Greenpeace India has claimed in its research report. It analysed nitrogen dioxide levels in India's eight most densely populated cities. According to Greenpeace's report, nitrogen dioxide pollution increased in all eight state capitals between April 2020 and April 2021. Eight state capitals include; Mumbai-52%, Delhi, Bengaluru-90%, Hyderabad-69%, Chennai-94%, Kolkata-11%, Jaipur-47% and Lucknow-32%.
In a recent interview, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “Under the leadership of Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal we would like to end the pollution of our state. As we are approaching a century of our independence, we will be doing as this is very important for our environment.”
In the 2021-2022 Delhi budget, Delhi Finance Minister Manish Sisodia announced that the government has set aside ₹124.8 crores. This money is to tackle air pollution in Delhi. The total money allotted by the Kejriwal Government was ₹9,394 crores. The Central Government had also given ₹2,217 crores for tackling air pollution in cities in the Union budget for 2021-22.
Steps taken by Central and State governments are-
- The Delhi government launched a tree plantation drive in Delhi last year to maintain green cover. In which 80% of the plants will be transplanted under the scheme of Tree Transplantation Policy.
- The government is installing two smog towers, and they are in the final stage of installation.
- Delhi government is trying to use at least 25% of e-vehicles.
- Delhi is going to shut down those power plants which emit harmful gases, and it is the first state to do this.
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna, provided a successful solution in the form of 14 crores LPG connections in India, due to which air pollution has decreased because people are not making food on chulhas anymore.
- Delhi has installed 39 Air Quality Monitoring Systems.
- Delhi Government has provided PNG Gas to the industrial sector at subsidized rates.
- The odd-Even scheme was launched by the government to reduce pollution.
The Environment Minister Gopal Rai said, “The Green Delhi App was launched which helped the government to analyse efforts to manage the AQ Index. Due to this, we received around 20,000 complaints, out of which 93% have been resolved.”
Through this, Green Delhi app anyone can click pictures or shoot videos of the burning garbage, industrial pollution and they can easily upload on this app. Further action is to be taken by the concerned department. On 12th and 13th April, the Delhi government conducted a round-table conference with environmental experts and various organizations to make a long-term action plan to control air pollution in the national capital.
What can we do:
- Reduce the number of trips you can take in your car.
- Reduce the use of a fireplace or woodstove.
- Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment as it can harm your health.
- Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste.
- Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever it is possible for you.
- Walk to errands when possible.
- Whenever you are going to the office or some work, try to share a ride to work, or else use public transportation.
- Avoid excessive idling of your automobiles.
- Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
It is high time now we should wake up and take action against pollution as Delhi is experiencing high levels of air pollution. We should stop poisoning Delhi and make our state clean and pollution-free. Rest the government has to make the air pollution and environment their biggest agenda. We as citizens of the country should hold the government accountable and ensure that the government takes important actions to ensure we have clean breathable air.
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