Delhi on the brink; instant action needed

Fatima Peter
Saturday, 11 November 2017

This week the national capital came to a halt with the thick smog that covered the city. The schools were shut down, transport system affected, flights delayed, people felt difficulty while breathing, invisibility was experienced in many places especially the highways and on roads, people suffered from health problems due to the smog, trains were suspended and day-to-day life activities of the people were affected.

This week the national capital came to a halt with the thick smog that covered the city. The schools were shut down, transport system affected, flights delayed, people felt difficulty while breathing, invisibility was experienced in many places especially the highways and on roads, people suffered from health problems due to the smog, trains were suspended and day-to-day life activities of the people were affected.

People were given instructions through television channels by ministers to not step out of the house and special warnings were issued for senior citizens, children and those suffering from health conditions to be cautious. On the first day when the city witnessed smog, Delhi's Chief Minister tweeted saying, "Every year, during this time of the year, Delhi becomes a gas chamber for almost a month." He also blamed the burning of stubble in the neighbouring states like Punjab and Haryana for the smog condition in the national capital.

While a video of speeding cars crashing into each other left many people injured went viral on the social media and a loud outcry was seen from people against the worsening situation of air pollution in Delhi. Every year the situation in Delhi during winter seems to worsen and a need arises to take major steps from the government's side to keep the air pollution control in check.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014 classified Delhi as the world's most polluted capital, with air quality levels worse than Beijing.
Nin Taneja, Delhi Coordinator for Nature Forever Society, which works for the conservation of house sparrows and flora and fauna found in human habitats, says the situation of smog in Delhi looks worse this year and people are facing a lot of problems related to health and others. "I have a throat irritation and it causes inconvenience while talking," she said while talking over the phone from Delhi. While sharing her experience she said, "When I reached office it was difficult to work as the smog had entered the office premises and was causing difficulty for the employees to work. Otherwise, the office closes at 6.30 but as the situation was very bad we left office at 4.30 pm." On the highway, the visibility is very bad. In the residential area, people are facing problem while breathing and those who are facing health problems like asthma and other breathing problems are facing inconvenience, she added.

But in spite of such bad situation there are very few efforts taken from the government and instead of reducing the number of cars from the roads the civic bodies are busy cutting down trees in the surrounding, she added. When asked if people are happy with the odd-even initiative run by the government she said, people are willing to follow whatever steps the government is implementing and improve the air pollution situation in Delhi.

But she also adds that strict laws, penalty, and more initiatives can help curb the air pollution situation.

Mohammed Dilawar, Founder, and President of Nature Forever Society says Delhi is under threat and what happens in Mumbai in rainy season happens to Delhi in winter. The government talks a lot about how they are making efforts to curb air pollution but in India, lakhs of people die every year due to health problems caused due to increasing air pollution. According to State of Global Air (SGA), 2017 report 10,90,400 people died due to air pollution as compared to 11,08,100 in China.

Another major problem is the burning of stubble which causes smog in Delhi as the surrounding states are involved in burning of crops during this time of the year. But he questions what is the government doing? The government should create awareness and take the farmers into confidence so that they stop this practice of burning the stubble. The stubble which is left after harvesting can be used to produce electricity but there is no awareness. The government should take steps to curb air pollution and establish strict laws and good implementation of policies by taking farmers and common people along with them.

While talking about steps like odd-even initiative and increasing of parking fees he said the initiatives are good but more needs to be done. The Environmental Acts are good in India but there is lack of willingness to enforce it and create awareness.

So, more initiatives along with proper implementation and awareness among farmers will help improve the smog situation in Delhi in the long run.

Awareness needed among farmers about air pollution caused due to burning of stubble
The burning of stubble is a major cause of air pollution and smog in Delhi as the surrounding states are involved in burning of crops during this time of the year. While speaking about the issue Mohammed Dilawar, Founder and President of Nature Forever Society says the government should create awareness and take the farmers into confidence, so that they stop the practice of burning the stubble. The stubble which is left after harvesting can be used to produce electricity but there is no awareness. The government should take steps to curb air pollution and establish strict laws and good implementation of policies by taking farmers and common people along with them.

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