Delhi’s Deteriorating Air Quality
Every year with the onset of winter, the national capital Delhi becomes a gas chamber, affecting thousands of people, especially young children and those with severe lung diseases. Though it has become an annual affair, so far no concerted effort has been made to provide relief to Delhites. It’s a pity that not a single recommendation made by various expert groups has been implemented. Rather, this alarming issue has turned into a game of political football wherein the persons concerned repeatedly try to pass on responsibilities to others, therefore indulging in clear dereliction of duties without ever being punished. As a result, instead of taking long-term measures to get rid of pollution, cosmetic measures have so far been taken to control the situation.
According to environmentalists, the main reason behind poor air quality in Delhi is not due to stubble burning, but because of excessive use of fossil fuels. Emissions from vehicles choke Delhi every year. It is important to note that vehicular density in Delhi is much higher than other Indian cities. A higher number of vehicles ply on Delhi roads every day than the combined figure of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. This is why every winter when air flow is more sluggish than normal, Delhi’s air quality turns very poor from greenhouse gases thickening overhead. As expected, cosmetic measures such as the ‘odd-even’ scheme or ‘switch on and switch off’ proposal at traffic signals have failed to bring any change in the city’s air quality. Yet, the Delhi Government has come up with another ambitious but ineffective proposal to keep Delhi free from private vehicles for a day every week to lessen the burden on the natural environment.
The fate of the new proposal is known even before it is circulated as Delhi needs far more effective measures to check pollution. Delhi has expanded in all directions without the required transport facilities leading to the current number of vehicles. Thus, the people have become dependent on private vehicles. To have a check on the use of private vehicles, experts have long suggested an integrated public transport system so that the distance between places can be reduced. Beyond a doubt, the Delhi Metro is a marvel of modern technology and it is helping commuters reach their destinations. But, a more integrated transport system is still not fully operational in Delhi and the people remain dependent on private vehicles. Moreover, to reduce the number of vehicles in Delhi, it was suggested that a moratorium should be imposed on the purchase of second-hand cars which has fallen on deaf ears. As a result, numbers of vehicles on Delhi roads have increased manifold. Clearly, the need of the hour is to scale down the use of fossil fuels in and around the national capital. It’s time now to take drastic measures to reduce vehicular pollution in Delhi to save the city and its people from an impending environmental disaster.