Tackling NCR’s Air Pollution Menace
Kudos to Delhi for preparing well in advance to combat air pollution in the city during winter. Unlike earlier years, when the city acted only after the damage had been done, this year the government has already enforced strict norms for vehicles and eateries, which are considered major sources of air pollution. Starting from October 1, the movement of BS 111 and VS IV diesel four wheelers in the National Capital Region (NCR), comprising Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budha Nagar (NOIDA), are banned till further orders. At the same time, under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), use of coal and firewood in the eateries has been completely banned. The authorities are hopeful that with these steps, air pollution can be controlled in Delhi and NCR considerably. It has also kept plan B ready in case these steps prove to be not so-effective. In such a scenario, the authorities may revert back to an odd-even strategy and stop construction works in the capital and its surrounding areas till the air quality improves.
Air pollution in Delhi during winter is a major environmental problem as it causes serious respiratory diseases to its citizens. So far, the authorities have taken many steps to curb the pollution, without much success. As a result, the city turns into a gas chamber every winter with the Air Quality Index (AQI) going well above 200 mark. As per this index, whenever the air quality breaches 200 mark, it is considered as poor. More worrying is the fact that sometime Delhi’s AQI touches 400 mark during winter, which is considered severe. To get rid of the situation, the authorities have held many discussions and finally decided to take proactive steps. Thus, apart from imposition of strict norms starting from October 1, a close watch will be kept on all the identified pollution hotspots in the region. It may be mentioned here that earlier authorities would take such steps only after forecast of severely bad air quality in NCR.
Apart from taking proactive measures to control air pollution, the Delhi government is also planning to explore the possibility of cloud seeding in winter. According to Gopal Rai, Environment Minister of Delhi, the state government is preparing an action plan in this regard. Cloud seeding technology is used to induce artificial rains, which is effective to check air pollution. In many cities around the world, this technique has been applied successfully and the Delhi government is considering using this technique if the situation threatens to go out of hand. Moreover, it has constituted an expert committee to advise the government from time to time on measures to be adopted to ward off the threat of air pollution. Delhi has become the first Indian state to take proactive steps to tackle the pollution menace. It is hoped that other states too will take similar proactive steps to allow the citizens to breathe better.