Improving Environment Issue #1
Although the smog that Delhi witnessed during the Deepawali celebration gives an impression that pollution levels in Delhi have deteriorated, report of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) says otherwise. According to the report of the DPCC pollution levels in Delhi in 2016 have improved compared to 2015 which reflected from the fact that concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 and 10 were found to be less than the last year.
Burning of crop straw after harvesting in general and paddy’s straw in particular in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana is one of the main reason behind the rise in the pollution levels in Delhi. However, the solution to the problem also lies in the crops. Growing of arhar dal in the paddy-growing regions around Delhi can solve the problem of straw disposal that farmers face due to which they follow cheapest alternative available of burning them. Arhar dal crop straw is green unlike the straw of paddy, so it can be easily ploughed back into the soil.
Solution to the problem of air pollution in Delhi cannot be centric on one source. What is required is simultaneous focus on several sources of air pollution in Delhi. For controlling vehicular pollution the government of Delhi can adopt the auction system that is being used in Singapore and which puts a cost on every car. Furthermore, government of Delhi should ensure that streets are paved wall to wall so that dusty and debris filled roadsides can be avoided.
Rising pollution levels in the cities of India in general and Delhi in particular has raised interest in air purifiers among the residents. However, given the cost most of the people in the cities cannot afford them. To solve this problem two young entrepreneurs from Kerala Geevarghese Thomas and Abhilash John have developed affordable air purifiers costing just Rs. 2500. The two entrepreneurs have recently passed out of college and have now launched a start-up dealing with air purifiers.
Delhi based young innovators Naman Gupta and Vishal Kanet have launched an initiative named Code to collect and recycle cigarette butts. The innovators are planning to use the cigarette waste for making several recycled products like manure, fly ash bricks and air filters. This will go a long way in protecting the environment as plasticised cellulose acetate which is used to make the cigarette butt can remain in environment for around 10 to 12 years. In addition to this cigarette butts have high quantity of hazardous substances like lead, copper, arsenic and cadmium that form the part of PM10 and PM2.5.
In an effort to check the rising levels of air pollution in Gurugram the district administration has banned the burning of waste, garbage and other materials openly under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC). Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram T. L. Satyaprakash has also asked the resident welfare associations in the district to support the initiative of the administration.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought responses from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL) about the diesel trucks being used them to transport oil across the country. The NGT has asked whether the two companies are using any diesel truck that is more than 10 years old. Moreover, the NGT has also asked about the new BS-IV compliant trucks being used by the companies.
Four cities across the world including Paris in France, Madrid in Spain, and Athens in Greece will phase out all diesel vehicles by 2025. The decision has been taken to improve the quality of air in these cities. Decision of these cities should act as a lesson for Delhi which has recently banned all diesel vehicles that are 15 years old.
Given the health crisis that Delhi is facing due to the rising air pollution levels, it will be prudent for it to study how other cities across the world dealt with similar situation. One case study that can be useful for the policymakers of Delhi is the Clean Air Act 1956 of Britain. One of the distinguishing feature of the Clean Air Act 1956 was that not only did it identified the sources of pollution, it also offered specific technical solutions like the technical guidelines on the height of chimneys.
Carpooling has been used as a tool for reducing air pollution as well as traffic congestion in urban areas. However, carpooling has met with little success. The main reason behind the low success of carpooling is the lack of economic incentive for the people to follow. If commercial carpooling is legalized in the country then it would provide an incentive for the owners of cars to go for carpooling.