Combating Emergency Conditions - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Combating Emergency Conditions

6113
By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 25, 2023 11:54 pm

The national capital Delhi has turned into a gas chamber with the air quality index (AQI) touching 346 mark on Monday, making it the city with the most toxic air in the world. Normally during the winter, Delhi witnesses a fall in air quality for a variety of reasons. But what is strange is that this time, Delhi’s residents have started breathing toxic air even before the advent of winter. Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai has blamed weak wind speed for the deterioration of air quality, which has allowed smog to settle over the city. According to him, the situation can only be improved with increased wind speed or unseasonal rain. The situation has further worsened as stubble burning has been reported in various parts of Punjab and Haryana.

Only a few months ago, the pollution control authorities in Delhi and NCR announced a graded response action plan amidst much fanfare, which was supposed to keep a strong vigil on different parts of the National Capital Region (NCR) to combat air pollution. According to the plan, air pollution levels both in Delhi and surrounding areas within NCR would be monitored on a regular basis to ensure timely action to prevent any crisis. But it appears that the plan remains on paper and has not been adequately implemented. As a matter of fact, such lackluster attitude by authorities is one of the main reasons behind Delhi’s severe air quality. Thus, without waiting for divine intervention like rain or increased wind speed, the pollution control department should start taking effective action to clean the air by following measures advised under the graded response action plan like sprinkling water, restricting number of cars, etc.; otherwise it will be too late to save Delhi from toxic air.

An AQI of 346 means that the air quality is very poor and is dangerous for human beings. Efforts to improve air quality should be made on a war footing to prevent respiratory diseases from turning into even more dangerous health hazards. The Delhi Government should immediately ban all fossil fuel vehicles from plying in the city as car emissions contribute heavily towards Delhi’s air pollution. Many may argue that such a blanket ban on vehicles will cripple Delhi, but the fact is that the capital’s public transport system has run on CNG for the last three decades and Delhi’s metro rail network is among the best in the world. So, Delhi will not come to a standstill if such measures are taken; rather it will help the city reduce pollution levels considerably. Similarly, a blanket ban on stubble burning is the need of the hour. Moreover, as the festival of lights Diwali is round the corner, the authorities should not allow firecrackers to burst in Delhi as that will only worsen the situation further. If deemed necessary, thermal power plants situated in the vicinity of NCR should also be temporarily closed until air quality improves. All these steps and more are crucial for Delhi’s survival as years of neglect has brought the city to emergency conditions.

6113
By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 25, 2023 11:54:00 pm
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