Air Quality in the Capital Improves; Sustainable Solution Needed

by September 27, 2018 0 comments

India Capital

Data from the Central Pollution Control Board shows improved air quality in the capital. It has something to do with the rains, but we need to keep the momentum.

It is heartening that for the third time this year the Capital registered a ‘good’ in terms of the Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday with some monitoring station showing an AQI of around 30, which is very good indeed. In fact, data released by the Central Pollution Control Board showed that residents of New Delhi breathed “good” quality air this past week as the city recorded AQI between below-50 to 150, which is considered to be in the good to satisfactory range. Equally, it is a sign of just how bad the air quality has become in these parts that we celebrate a week of clean air like manna from the heavens.

The past week’s air quality marks a departure from previous years and a significant improvement on 2016 when during the same period air pollution levels declined to “poor” and subsequently “severe” levels. The Capital, as a consequence, earned the tag of being one of the most polluted cities in the world. The magnitude of the problem is such that it has provoked a barrage of criticism from residents gasping for breath. Recurring rains as the monsoon makes an extended withdrawal has, of course, helped wash away dangerous pollutants from the air. The Government too has been compelled to look for practical solutions to minimise air pollution in light of public anger.

Apart from the munificence of the rain gods, the present improvement in air quality goes to the credit in some measure at least to the Supreme Court-mandated Graded Response Action Plan that called for a comprehensive approach towards finding specific solutions for each pollution category based upon atmospheric particulate matter and insisted all stakeholders work together.

The coming months of October, November and December are the most crucial and will pose a stern test for the Government’s efforts to curb air pollution. It is during the onset of winters that farmers in and around neighbouring States start burning of residual crops as they prepare their fields for the next season. Already, 61 cases of crop-stubble burning have been reported from Haryana and Punjab. In pursuit of solutions, the administration has already installed pollution mitigating devices at two of the most pollution-prone areas of Delhi — ITO and Mukarba Chowk. More such devices are on the anvil. But the problem of air pollution will need more than these ad-hoc moves and emergency solutions such as the odd-even scheme for vehicles, extended holidays for educational institutions, temporary closure of polluting industries and a ban on construction and the like as all of these measures take a devastating toll on economic activity.

Air pollution is not something that happened overnight. It was allowed to happen over decades thanks to apathy and neglect. It follows, there will be no overnight solution either. While there is no magic cure, a sustainable solution will require time and most importantly close coordination between the municipal, State and Central authorities, not to mention civil society and the ordinary or garden variety of citizens.

Writer: Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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