Pollution In Delhi Essay

Pollution in Delhi: How Can It Be Controlled?

November 25, 2014

by Rumani Saikia Phukan

A perennial problem in India is pollution. According to the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014, India has reached a rank of 155, slipped 32 ranks from the previous year, and it is disheartening to hear that Delhi, the national capital of the country, is being tagged as one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. It is the world’s worst city for air pollution. Thus, today, one of the biggest threats to the welfare of the people of Delhi and the city as a whole is pollution of various types.

Classification of pollution in Delhi

  • Air pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Domestic waste
  • Industrial waste
  • Vehicular pollution
  • Hospital waste
  • Solid waste etc.

Causes of pollution in Delhi

  • Growing population of the city. The pressure and haphazard growth of the population is deteriorating the environment.
  • There has been highly haphazard and unplanned development of industries and factories. Studies have revealed that only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.
  • There has been a huge rise in the vehicular population, in spite of the metro railways, aggravating traffic congestion and increasing air and noise pollution. It has also been reported that the number of vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi is more than that of the three metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together.
  • There has also been an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles plying on the roads, which are largely responsible for the air pollution.
  • It has been reported by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) that everyday almost 8,000 m tonnes of solid waste is being generated in Delhi. Plus we also have the industrial hazardous and non-hazardous waste. On an average, everyday, the MCDs and the NDMC manage to clear about 5,000-5,500 m tonnes of garbage. This results in the accumulation of more and more garbage in the city.
  • There has been no proper technology or methods to treat solid, liquid, waste water, industrial and hospital wastes in the city.
  • There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc

Particulate matter for measuring pollution

One way of measuring pollution is by the measure of particulate matter. Particulate matter is basically a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets like acids, chemicals, gas, water, metals, soil dust particles, etc., the measurement of which gives an idea of the pollution of a city. It is also known as particle pollution or PM.

Pollution in Delhi: Facts and figures

  • According to the Ambient Air Pollution (AAP) report for the year 2014, Delhi had PM 2.5 pollution levels, which is the highest in the world, followed by Beijing. This result was based on the monitoring of PM measurement of outdoor air pollution from almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries.
  • The highest concentration of PM 2.5 form of air pollution is supposed to be a very serious matter and can lead to respiratory diseases and other health problems like lung cancer.
  • According to the WHO, air pollution is the fifth largest killer in India.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO), a dangerous gas emission, is around 6,000 microgram per cubic metre in Delhi, which is much above the the safe level of 2,000 microgram per cubic metre.
  • The level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) has also been increasing.
  • According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) is 121, which is described as “poor.” The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality, about how clean or polluted the air is.

Government’s steps to control pollution in Delhi

  • There are mobile enforcement teams deployed at various locations for monitoring polluting vehicles and vehicles not having PUC certificates.
  • A Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) is being constructed with the aim of providing a non-polluting, useful and affordable rail-based mass rapid transit system for Delhi, integrated with other modes of transport.
  • With a view to reducing vehicular pollution, there has been a ban imposed on the plying of more than 15 years old commercial/transport vehicles, taxis and autos that run on conventional fuels, including diesel driven city buses.
  • There has also been tightening of mass emission standards for new vehicles.
  • The quality of the fuel being supplied in Delhi has been significantly improved over the years by the ban of selling leaded petrol, introduction of low sulphur diesel, reduction of sulphur and benzene content in petrol.
  • There has been regular placement of dustbins, purchase of additional front-end loaders, mechanical sweepers, dumper placers, tipper trucks, to collect and dispose of garbage.
  • Steps are taken to transform garbage into compost by developing new sanitary land-fill sites.
  • The Delhi Government has constituted a committee to implement the Bio-Medical Waste (management and handling) Rules, 1998.
  • The Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sale and Usage) and Garbage (Control) Act 2000 has been enacted for banning the manufacture and use of plastic bags, etc.

It’s not that the Government is not taking steps to control pollution in Delhi. But we need proper and efficient implementation of plans and programmes and policies launched by the Government.

How can citizens of Delhi help in reducing pollution?

Pollution in Delhi is a perpetual problem which need to be looked upon as a serious issue not only by the Government but also by the citizens of the city.

  • One of the easiest ways is that there should be an efficient involvement of Resident Welfare Associations in various localities in collection, segregation of garbage from houses and the societies.
  • Citizens can take steps to covert the garbage into compost in their localities.
  • More and more trees must be planted in every locality.
  • Every individual should keep a proper check on the pollution level of their vehicles.
  • Making more use of CNG.
  • One of the best ways to control pollution is to manage wastes of all types in a proper manner.
  • Each and every citizen should abide by the 3Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce.
  • More and more people should use bus and metro instead of cars and scooters, as they can carry a lot more people in one journey. Car pool is also a good option.
  • Controlling the use of energy and making use of electricity in an efficient manner.
  • One can also reduce water pollution by reducing the use of chemicals, cleaning agents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers etc.

It is the duty of every citizen to think in a broader perspective to control pollution. We really don’t want our future generations to live in an unhealthy environment in Delhi. We really don’t want our children or our elders to get into incessant coughing due to pollution. Like we say charity begins at home, I take a pledge to do what I can for my environment and protect it to the best I can. If each one of us takes a pledge to do our bit for our environment, I am sure Delhi will be a better place to live in. Even a small step counts…

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WHY DELHI SUFFERS: ALL BIG TALK BUT NOTHING CONCRETE HAS BEEN DONE

A lot has been said and promised but very little has been done to control the pollution that is choking Delhi year after year in winters

DELHI GOVT’S PROMISES

SHORT-TERM


Road vacuuming: Six machine sweepers launched in April to check road dust
CHALLENGE: Can’t be operated on uneven roads
STATUS: Machines called back. On Tuesday, Manish Sisodia, reintroduced them
Sprinklers, mist fountains: Water sprinklers and mist fountains to settle dust
CHALLENGE: Won’t help if dust not regularly cleared
STATUS: Not launched
Outdoor air purifiers: Air purifiers to be set up at five locations
CHALLENGE: Don’t work well in open space
STATUS: Not launched
Odd-even scheme: Odd, even numbered cars ply on alernate days to check congestion, emissions.
CHALLENGE: Farm fires, school season negates impact, no clarity on success
STATUS: Not on govt’s immediate agenda
Night sweeping: Sweeping of roads at night to allow dust to settle down by morning
CHALLENGE: Lack of sanitation staff
STATUS: Except NDMC, no civic body abiding

LONG-TERM


Controlling crop burning: Problem persists despite meetings and letters to Punjab, Haryana
CHALLENGE: Lack of coordination, fewer fines in Punjab because of election year
STATUS: First of many interstate meets on Friday, no concrete plan
Public transport: DTC fleet has 5,951 buses, 8,000 short of need. Last mile link a problem.
CHALLENGE: Bus procurement stuck, auto-drivers overcharge customers, last mile issues
STATUS: Indefinite
Bharat Stage-VI: SC ordered cleaner fuel standards by 2020 to cut emissions by 60%.
CHALLENGE: Faces reluctance from manufacturers and dealers
STATUS: To be in force by Apr 2017

CENTRE’S ACTION PLAN FOR STATES IN JULY 2016

Green buffers along traffic corridors within 90 days
IMPACT: Prevent recirculation of dust that aggravated pollution
STATUS: Work slow in most states
Greening of open areas in 90 days to reduce dust pollution
IMPACT: Prevent recirculation of dust that aggravated pollution
STATUS: Work slow in most states
Ban on stubble and waste burning within 90 days
IMPACT: Contributes 26% to Delhi’s air pollution
STATUS: Initiated in Haryana and Punjab, stopped for political reasons
Install emission traps in brick kilns around Delhi in 120 days
IMPACT: Would have reduced capital’s pollution load by 10%-15%
STATUS: Slow progress, politically connected kiln owners resist
Enforce construction rules
IMPACT: Would havereduced particulate pollutionby 30%
STATUS: Poor enforcement and fear that it may lead to corruption
Decongest traffic
IMPACT: Central panel recommended taxing use of private vehicles.
STATUS: Indefinite

WHAT EXPERTS REALLY WANT

  • Impound vehicles using city as thoroughfare, no day movement of goods.
  • Incentives for auto firms to take polluting vehicles, person one car norm, higher tax for fuel guzzling SUVs, incentive for electric cars.
  • Hike parking fee, need congestion charge in busy areas, impound vehicles not parked at destined spots.
  • Declare all shopping areas such as CP, Khan Market, Sarojini Nagar as no vehicle zones. Introduce pedestrian and cycle tracks
  • Reliable public transport at 5 minutes walking distance of one’s home and available within 2-5 minutes, an international norm. Improve last mile connectivity from all metro stations
  • Notify dust management rules for all agencies. govt and private. Violators have to pay hefty penalty.

Are the measures enough?

A look at the pollution control measures taken by the Delhi government last year suggests that a number of steps, which otherwise should have continued at regular intervals, have only been reintroduced or re-packaged.

Environmentalists too are unimpressed with the directives, saying they believed the steps are a repetition of last year’s action plan.

Bhargav Krishna from the Public Health Foundation of India asked why the government did not act earlier, when the situation could have been controlled.

Moreover, none of the measures introduced by the government are considered viable long-term options.

What can we learn from other cities around the world?

China’s capital Beijing too reels under heavy winter smog as the country switches to coal-fuelled central heating and releases more pollutants in the air. But a newspaper said China has launched a crackdown on heavy vehicles that failed to meet emission standards.

Beijing also plans to create ventilation corridors by connecting the city’s parks, rivers and lakes, highways with green belts and low building blocks that will allow the air to flow and blow away smog.

Delhi can also learn from cities such as London and Los Angeles that have battled deadly smogs in the past, but have taken measures to combat the situation.

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