70 per cent of Pollution in Delhi Caused by External Factors

70 per cent of Pollution in Delhi Caused by External Factors
Image Source : TheLeaflet

Delhi’s Environment Minister said referring to CSE Report, that “Delhi’s contribution to its air pollution is mere 30 per cent and 70 per cent pollution is caused by outside factors” 

Gopal Rai, Minister of Environment, Delhi, said, “70 per cent pollution in Delhi is caused by external factors and it is impossible to combat pollution without cooperation by Center and Adjoining states”.

While making these remarks, Minister relied upon a report published by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE). Report of CSE in turn based on data released by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), A specialized agency of Ministry of Earth Sciences.  

Recently the Delhi Government announced some emergency measures, including compulsory work from home for all the government officials from all departments until November 21 (to reduce pollution caused by vehicular traffic), construction and demolition work is prohibited till November 21.

All educational institutions, including schools, will remain close until further orders and additional measures like sprinkling water at 13 pollution hot spots in the national capital and procurement of 1,000 private buses to augment public transport, banning entry of trucks.

Rai further added, “Delhi government is make arrangements to enforce direction issued by Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM).”  

As per the CSE report, Delhi’s contribution to its pollution is a mere 30 per cent, while the source of the remaining 70 per cent of the pollution is outside Delhi. The report also mentions the necessity of Joint action plan by the Center and adjoining states to combat falling air quality at the national capital.

Delhi’s air quality continues to be in the “Poor category” according to the SAFAR, and Air Quality Index dipped at new alarming low on 379. 

Delhi’s air pollution intricate problem and is caused by various internal and external factors, which primarily includes Stubble burning in adjoining states (Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh), increased vehicular traffic, waste burning, lack of measures by the construction industry to prevent particulate matter (PM) from dispensing in air, plying of truck carrying construction and demolition waste (CDW)s (without covering it with tarpaulin), stagnation of air during winter, dust storms from the north-west region.  

Air pollution makes the lives of resident’s problematic. Last year PM 2.5 in the air claimed 50,000 lives even though lockdown was enforced. 1,800 deaths per 10 lakh population are directly linked to bad air quality.

Smoke caused by Stubble burning and dust particles dispensing from North-West India are pushed by winter winds flowing from the Middle East towards the Indian subcontinent. Also, trucks carrying CDW mete out PM in the air.  

Stubble burning is more like a compulsion on farmers. When harvester’s harvest’s the crop (paddy) small portion of Stubble remains on land, which is very difficult to remove, and it takes much capital to remove it with manual labour; hence farmers prefer burning it.  

State and Central Governments undertake several steps to abate deteriorating air quality in the region. This year Centre established CAQM, a specialized agency to improve air quality at National Capital Territory and Adjoining areas.

Establishment of Custom hiring centres to enable small farmers to source Happy seeder machines to remove Stubble, Odd-Even formula by the Delhi government, installation of Anti smog guns, smog towers, water sprinklers in dust prone areas, promotion of Electric vehicles Etc. 

The problem of air pollution must be tackled with non-structural solutions than a structural one. There are many ways which both central and state Governments can consider to abate stubble burning.

Government can incentivize farmers to grow crops other than paddy by offering Minimum Support Price (MSP) on those crops, procurement of Stubble from farmers at a statutorily fixed price and using it as input in biomass energy generation plants.

Government can focus on robust enforcement of directions issued by the Supreme court and National Green Tribunal, which prohibits stubble burning. Bio Decomposers like PUSA, a Microbial bio enzyme solution that accelerates the decomposition of crop residue to 10-15 days plus it provides manure to the soil through decomposed Stubble improving soil fertility. 

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