10-Day Long Clean Air Campaign Rolls Out; Rs 83 Lakh Collected As Penalty
Ten of the 12 most polluted cities in the country are in Uttar Pradesh as air quality in these cities has been termed ‘severe’ or ‘very poor’, data available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) show. Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Greater Noida, Baghpat, Noida, Hapur, Bulanshahr, Muzzafarnagar, Agra and Lucknow are the worst-affected cities, data show. Among the 12 most-affected cities is national capital Delhi (7) and Gurgaon (3).
Ongoing construction activity, insufficient green belts, faulty agricultural practices, vehicular pollution are some of the prime reasons for the rising pollution levels in these cities.
So, what is the impact?
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that India, unfortunately, tops in the deaths of those aged under five. According to the WHO's report titled Air Pollution and Child Health - Prescribing Clean Air, over one lakh children in India lost their lives in 2016 solely due to toxic air, about 61,000 of them being under the age of five.
Another report by Greenpeace India shows that 47 million children below the age of five run the risk of being severely affected by the rising pollution levels. In fact, 17 million of such children live in Indian cities where the pollution level is twice the permissible limit, notes the report named Airpocalypse- II.
Here are some key findings of the report:
*The national capital Delhi is the worst hit with annual particulate matter 10 (PM10) level escalating and reaching almost five times the permissible limits.
*About 580 million, which is 47 per cent of the total population of the country, are living in neglect and ignorance with no effort on the government's side to capture the state of air quality in their region. Also, 550 million in India live in areas where the PM10 levels far exceed the limits set by the CPCB, including 180 million living in areas where air pollution levels are more than twice the stipulated limit of 60g/m3.
*The worst-affected states include Bihar, Delhi, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. In terms of ranking, Delhi is the most polluted city with 290 µg/m3 followed by Faridabad, Bhiwadi, Patna with an annual average ranging from 272 µg/m3, 262 µg/m3 & 261 µg/m3, respectively. The list also includes Dehradun (Uttarakhand) which was once the 'salubrious preserve of retiring elite'.
*Southern cities in India are faring better than the cities along the Indo-Gangetic basin. However, these cities also need a focussed, time-bound action plan to adhere to standards defined by the WHO.
One of the major reasons behind rising pollution levels in and around Delhi, apart from the very obvious reasons such as transport, is stubble-burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana. Various steps and measures have been taken, although the pace might have suffered owing to disagreements among stakeholders.
What is Delhi doing about it?
The civic bodies in the national capital have been intensifying their battle against air pollution in Delhi managed to impose penalties for violations in multiple places to the tune of Rs 30 lakh by November 2. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) slapped 435 challans worth Rs 22 lakh. The New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has constituted night patrolling teams in all its six zones. Building departments too inspected construction sites and violations were noticed in 39 sites bringing in a penalty of Rs 8 lakh.
Besides, challans were also slapped in Civil Lines, City Sadar Paharganj Zone.
Vehicles, mechanical sweeping machines and tankers have been arranged for sprinkling the roads while face masks have been distributed to sanitation workers by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
On November 4, a penalty of Rs 83 lakh was slapped on violators in a single day under the Clean Air Campaign. Instances of illegal construction and demolition activities were the major violations.
A ten-day long Clean Air Campaign has been launched from November 1 to 10. The initiative has been launched by the Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan to monitor and report pollution-causing activities and roll out solutions. Delhi, Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Noida are under the radar.