New Delhi: Pollution in the capital and its surrounding areas is about to cross the “severe” mark. The Air Quality Index recorded by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) on Tuesday at 11 am was a “critical” 449 as compared to Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) prescribed limit of 100. A recent study of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has found that vehicle pollution is the cause of 28 per cent of PM2.5 emissions in Delhi stubble burning by farmers in Haryana, Punjab, and western Uttar Pradesh, contributes only 4 per cent top pollution levels during the winter season.
This scenario is repeated mostly every year during winter months. Starting end-October and beginning-November smog covers the entire region of Delhi-NCR prompting the CPCB and Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) to roll-out Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to tackle the rising pollution levels. The Supreme Court appointed EPCA during last week proposed a ban on the use of private vehicles in case of further deterioration of air quality.
Talking about the menace of vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR during a Facebook Live programme of Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) on air pollution ‘Season of Smog’, Anumita Roychowdhury, an executive director of CSE said,
Traffic would increase due to Diwali shopping which would further worsen the air quality and action needs to be taken against the vehicles. When the authorities are ramping up emergency actions in all sectors why vehicles should be spared.
The proposed action on private vehicles has to be seen within the larger context of how we are gradually ramping up emergency actions on all sectors. Today when we have gone to the extent of shutting power plants, brick kilns, hot mix plants, and even gensets, the cars are actually coming last. So to say to make an exception to cars is very wrong keeping in mind that all the new estimates are showing that private vehicles contribute towards 40 per cent of pollution.
Ms. Roychowdhury asserted, “Diwali marketing is going to intensify and we have to take action on vehicles and these are temporary measures. It also means that all of us have to take responsibility to take public transport”. She also said that people can play a crucial role in building up pressure on authorities and demand action from them.
“Public participation is critical to keep up pressure on public and demand action. People can also play a role in combating pollution by reducing footprint, carpooling, public transport and increasing use of cycles for transportation,” she said. A thick haze has engulfed the national capital following which, experts have warned, the air quality is likely to worsen further due to local factors and the impact of the foul air on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.