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Pollution looms large over Delhi

Pollution looms large over Delhi
Highlights

Delhi is getting ready to face yet another nightmare the winter pollution As the crops start burning around Delhi, in Haryana and Punjab and in the neighbouring countrys fields, the smog effect is already being felt This only adds fuel to the fire as the citys unbridled pollution, thanks to the pet coke burning by its thousands of industrial units and tandoors, remain unchecked

Delhi is getting ready to face yet another nightmare – the winter pollution. As the crops start burning around Delhi, in Haryana and Punjab and in the neighbouring country’s fields, the smog effect is already being felt. This only adds fuel to the fire as the city’s unbridled pollution, thanks to the pet coke burning by its thousands of industrial units and tandoors, remain unchecked.

Comes amid this the refusal of the Supreme Court to order a complete ban on the burning of fire crackers this Diwali-Christmas-New Year season. Last year the Supreme Court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers in and around the capital city, an area with a population of 20 million. That reduced the use of firecrackers, cutting resulting emissions by about 50 per cent.

With a toxic smog beginning to envelop New Delhi as the winter approaches, residents of the Indian capital are set to make matters worse by burning hundreds of thousands of firecrackers to celebrate Diwali early next month unmindful of the effect. It is equally quirky to see the residents ignoring their own health hazards. The country should have done something to end this foolish practice at least this year and the Centre too should have asked the apex court to ban the crackers completely. Both did not happen.

As a result, New Delhi, which is one of the world’s 14 most polluted cities, made little effort this year to curb the sale of ear-splitting firecrackers that explode through Diwali night. It defies logic that the people too ignore the toxic combo of the burning crop residue, vehicle pollution and industrial gases. Authorities had refused to step in to curb the same and passed the buck on to the Supreme Court to restrict the sale and use of firecrackers.

New Delhi accounts for half of India’s demand for firecrackers. Still, the Delhi government and the Centre refuse to intervene. This time, the Environment Ministry has rather asked for the introduction of firecrackers that emit less harmful chemicals – which brings down the toxic emissions by about 40 per cent. However, this is not a practical suggestion at all.

Large scale production of such fireworks would take time and require heavy investment. Perhaps, a broader discussion should be generated over this issue as this involves the lifeline of at least three lakh people of Sivakasi town of Tamil Nadu. Last year Sivakasi suffered a whopping Rs 2,000 crore loss due to the temporary ban of the SC. But as stated earlier, the problem does not arise only with firecrackers.

Stubble burning after harvest, non-implementation of dust control mechanism for construction sites, failure in putting an end to land-fill site fires, absence of improved public transport etc., the list is endless. If one is serious in tackling the pollution crisis, the major causes need to be studied on priority basis first. Muddy politics worsen the crisis. Stubble burning cannot be stopped at all as Punjab is ruled by the Congress, Haryana, by the BJP and Delhi by the Aam Admi Party. No one would think of improving civic conditions in Delhi, thanks to the generous political differences! And the capital continues to suffer.

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