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Pollution and Pandemic in Delhi

While the pandemic is still going strong with the surge of cases day by day in addition to the rising pollution levels in a city. A recent study shows that Delhi is the most polluted capital globally and 22 out of 30 cities in the most polluted cities in the world ranking is found in India.  


Due to the uneventful happening in 2020 when the third of the world's population is locked in their house to protect themselves from the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The world is in upheaval and people are distressed and fretted to go back to normal and their daily routine life but in this agonized world the environment gets its breather. Nature started healing from human disruptions. Many polluted cities in the world see a dip in the pollution levels in the air. In 2019, New Delhi has dangerous levels of pollution found in the air. Its sky was covered with "a toxic, throat-searing cloud of brown smog" but in April 2020, the city recorded the longest spell of clean air in recent years. According to NASA, within one week of lockdown in India, air pollution had dropped to a 20-year low. In New Delhi, there is a fall of 60% in air pollution at the beginning of lockdown. People enjoyed the blueness of the sky from their balconies or terrace after such a long time in the city.  


But this happiness from nature is short-lived. As unlock phase begins in the country, the pollution in the air is also coming back to its pre-lockdown level. The reason for a slight change in environment is due to the reduction of transport activity in the road but after the unlock the road is busied with the traffic of both public and personal transportation. Environment minister Prakash Javadekar noted that 95% of air pollution in Delhi is due to Dust, construction, increase in vehicle mobility on the road, and biomass burning. During the lockdown, public transport is suspended from working as there is a high chance of the spread of the virus so, those who have no source of transport found it exceedingly difficult to go someplace in those times. As soon as the lockdown ended, there is an increase in auto sales in the country. People opt to go for their vehicle rather than public transport hence, the traffic on the roads of Delhi is just only 30% less than from pre-covid days even when the maximum numbers of people are working from home. Just imagine what will happen to the environment when everything goes back to its normal situation meaning 'pre-covid times.' The number of vehicles we found on the roads would be uncountable and the level of pollution will be sky-soaring.  


Well, the pandemic is worse for humankind but it is a helping hand to nature. It is also a lesson to us that if we did not stop our harmful practices towards the biosystem. Nature deteriorates to the point it never comes back to its natural state. Certain measures had to be adopted by both government and people to control the environmental deterioration.  


As I live in Delhi, where its surrounded cities like Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad are also facing adverse conditions of pollution. All cities around the capital of India are placed in the top 30 of the worst most polluted cities in the world which is both alarming and shocking in respect of the environment. We need strict regulations and guidance to stop getting worse in this situation. We need to have an urgent alternative to decompose our waste rather than the earlier way of burning it. Stubble burning needs to be watched. Transportation and Traffic must be regulated. Climate campaigner at Greenpeace India, Avinash Chanchal concluded that cities like Delhi should implement sustainable and clean energy sources as well as need to encourage low cost, active and carbon-neutral activities like walking, cycling, and public transport.  


As cases are still rising so we cannot promote public transport for the safety of the public but we can urge that to travel only when needed and if one can work from home then do it if possible.  


So, that if one pandemic is over another one cannot rise due to the aftermath of our negligence.


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