Air pollution in Delhi
Context: Delhi is currently engulfed by the annual post Diwali smog and a public health emergency has been declared.
- The air quality of Delhi has dropped to a hazardous level and the visibility has reduced to almost zero.
- The pollution levels have reached a 3 year high this time.
- Air quality index of Delhi is generally in moderate level between January and September but then it drastically deteriorates to very poor, severe or hazardous levels in 3 months between October and December.
VARIOUS FACTORS WHICH HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO DELHIS POLLUTION
- Motor vehicle emission remains one of the major causes of poor air quality.
- The Badarpur thermal power station is also a major source of air pollution in Delhi.
- The drift/mist emissions from the wet cooling towers is also a source of particulate matter as they are widely used in industry and other sectors for dissipating heat in cooling systems.
- Agricultural stubble burning also affects Delhi’s air quality when crops are being harvested.
- Meteorology and Delhi’s geography also render the city vulnerable to a certain amount of winter pollution particularly when wind speed drops to less than 10kmph
Effects of poor air quality
- 2 million children in Delhi have irreversible lung damage due to poor air quality
- Pollution can also lower children’s immune system and increase risk of cancer, epilepsy, diabetes and even early onset of diseases like multiple sclerosis.
- In adults poor air quality is cause of reduced lung capacity, headaches, sore throats, coughs, fatigue, lung cancer and early death.
GRADED RESPONSE ACTION PLAN (GRAP).
GRAP talks about some strict measures to be taken to fight air pollution in Delhi’s neighborhood.
Approved by Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated after several meetings that the environment pollution (prevention and control) authority (EPCA) held with state government representatives and experts.
If air quality reaches the severe+ stage, GRAP talks about shutting down schools and implementing the odd even road space rationing scheme.
NATIONAL CLEAN AIR PROGRAMME (NCAP)
- NCAP is a pollution control initiative launched by ministry of environment with the intention to cut concentration of coarse and fine particles by at least 20% in next five years with 2017 as base year of consumption.
- It is basically envisaged as a scheme to provide the states and centre with a framework to combat air pollution, build a pan India air quality monitoring network and improve citizen awareness.
- The programme focuses on 102 polluted Indian cities.
But experts suggest that NCAP needs to be backed by a legal mandate to ensure successful ground level implementation of emission control measures.
Question: What steps are required to combat air pollution in Indian cities? What role could the civil society and citizenry play to appreciate government steps. (20 marks)