Changing The Delhi Air Is In Your Hands
It's not that there has been a lack of willingness and efforts to tackle the pollution monster in Delhi that has assumed a character only comparable to catastrophes of biblical proportions. Ever since Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took charge, his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has been introducing innovative measures to bring pollution levels down in the national capital, often at the risk of appearing whimsical. Who can forget the public wrath the former bureaucrat popular for his fair dealings invited over introducing the odd-even road space rationing in the city last summer.
In October-end, Delhi launched an application for smartphone users, Hawa Badlo (this could be loosely translated into change the air). The move is aimed at making the public a partner in dealing with pollution. There are two versions of the app, one allows citizens to click a picture of any dirty site and report it to authorities; the other would help authorities identify valid complaints and address them accordingly.
More recently, the government announced measures to cut down dust emitting from construction sites. It also announced measures, such as vacuum cleaning and sprinkling of water on aerial roads and prohibition on burning of leaves to make air cleaner. According to media reports, the Delhi's Public Works Department is considering installing mist fountain and air purifiers at traffic intersections to effectively handle the problem.
"Jet pressure pump technique will be used for water sprinkling on footpath edges, road bumps and central verges. By doing this, we can control dust particles. In several countries, such technology is being used to curb dust pollution," media quoted Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia as saying.
"Ninety per cent of dust pollution comes from the construction sites which need to be regulated. There are 61 major construction sites in Delhi, but there are several small such sites and most of which violate laid down rules… Government has decided to make people aware about dust pollution. We will appeal to them to inform it about violations of rules. The Swachh Delhi App developed by the Urban Development Department to be also linked with dust complaints from construction sites on which people can complain," the deputy CM added.
However, one night of celebration frenzy was enough to get it all down the drain. The morning after the Diwali celebrations, city dwellers woke up to thick layers of smog engulfing the NCR. According to a report by Associated Press, “By Monday morning (October 31), the city was recording PM 2.5 levels above 900 mcg per cubic metre, more than 90 times higher than the WHO recommendation of no more than 10 mcg per cubic metre.”
During this time of the year when fire crackers run riot, pollution levels do breach permitted levels but this unprecedented increase this year was fuelled by “high levels of moisture in the air” and the “burning of agricultural residue by farmers on the outskirts of the capital or in neighbouring states”, the report says.
"Since being identified as one of the world's most polluted cities in recent years, New Delhi has tried to clean its air. It has barred cargo trucks from city streets, required drivers to buy new cars that meet higher emissions standards and carried out several weeks of experimental traffic control, limiting the number of cars on the road. But other pollution sources, including construction dust and cooking fires fuelled by wood or kerosene, continue unabated," says the AP report. And, so does the fire crackers.
Breathing in fresh air in Delhi would remain a distant dream without the public becomes an active patner into the clean up process.