We should fight air pollution unitedly

We should fight air pollution unitedly

The national capital is once again breathing hard even as the winter is slowly setting in.

The national capital is once again breathing hard even as the winter is slowly setting in. It is a pleasant atmosphere no doubt, with the nights and days becoming cooler.

However, the air quality is also dipping very fast thanks to various factors including stubble burning in the neighbouring States as well as the neighbouring country. Westerly and north-westerly winds have brought dust from the western regions and smoke caused by burning of crop residue in the neighbouring Punjab and Haryana and as far as Pakistan's bordering plains.

On Sunday, pollution levels in Delhi shot up by around 100 points at air quality index (AQI), the Central Pollution Control Board data showed. The Ministry of Earth Sciences too said that the overall air quality is back in the poor category. The Delhi government has decided to enforce odd-even policy once again. This has not proved any good in the past.

Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, had pointed out in the past that trucks were major contributors to the problem. Soil and road dust contributed 26 per cent to the particulate matter while the trucks contributed 30 per cent. In fact, the very transport sector contributes the highest to the pollution levels with its emissions.

Though Delhi's public transport switched to CNG along with most of the autos and taxis, the problem remains with the diesel vehicles. Why is there no stringent check and stringent pollution law in the country still bewilders us.

Is this the age we can afford neglect of such issues? Punjab and Haryana provide up to 80 per cent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw and are also running an awareness campaign.

Yet, lack of financial incentives and the short window that the farmers have to go for the next crop make them go for burning, the easiest method. Governments talk of installing air purifiers at all junctions and spraying with water cannons to contain pollution, but rudimentary issues are forgotten.

Where is the real action of cutting pollution at the source? Blaming the farmer alone is not going to help the situation. Even if the farmers want to buy happy seeder machines, the downside is that the farmers need to pay upfront, and to claim subsidies, they say they have to submit three sets of applications, six separate forms, receipts for buying the machines and clearances from half a dozen local government offices.

After submission of all these papers, they are not sure when their applications will be processed. So what is a poor farmer supposed to do? Simply put, the system does not allow them to buy one even if they are serious about it.

Delhi is one of the best monitored compared to other cities in the country. It has 38 separate air quality testing stations. Any attempt at fighting pollution all alone will not give dividends.

Delhi Pollution Control Committee has rightly observed that the entire Indo-Gangetic belt has to deal with pollution and not Delhi alone and this means that Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have to fight together.

Collectively we have destroyed the air quality and hence, collectively one has to negate the effects.

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