Shrouded in Haze
A lot of noise is being made over pollution in Delhi. As a matter of fact, for the last couple of years such hue and cry has become an annual event. With the onset of winter the national capital turns into a gas chamber, where haze engulfs the city for several days. The haze gets cleared only with the help of favourable wind conditions. But untill the wind changes its direction, Delhiites have to suffer from this menace. Sometimes it takes weeks for the wind to change direction, and watery eyes, bronchial problems become a part of daily life. As concerned authorities show no intention of finding answers to this glaring trouble, people of Delhi have now virtually surrendered the fate of their wellbeing. Thus it is no surprise that given a chance 40 per cent of residents in Delhi have voiced in favour of leaving the capital.
Despite a lot of talks on Delhi pollution why does it continue to haunt citizens every year? The answer is not difficult to find. The problem has become so severe because over the years virtually no effort or very little effort has been made to wipe it out from the root. Like any another big modern city, a major contributor to Delhi’s pollution is numerous vehicles that ply on the city’s road every day. Statistically, more vehicles use Delhi roads every day than the combined load of vehicles in three major metro city roads namely Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Ever since Independence, Delhi has increased manifold in size but authorities did not take steps to improve shared public connectivity of the newly constructed areas. So private cars and two-wheelers are present in Delhi in large numbers.
Forget about improving connectivity, authorities in Delhi did very little to bring vehicular pollution under control. In the nineties, the then chief minister of Delhi made Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) compulsory for public transport. Initially, the plan faced a lot of resistance. Yet, Shiela Dixit was successful in implementing the scheme. But it was too little and too late. No one knows why Ms. Dixit didn’t apply the CNG norm to privately owned vehicles too? It was during that regime that Delhi Metro became functional. Again, no efforts were made to ask the people to use metro in place of private vehicles. Arvind Kejriwal government introduced odd-even system for a year. But it was just for a few days and was later rejected. Now, sensing the gravity of the situation once again the odd-even formula will be implemented. But it will not help Delhi to get much respite as the air quality index (AQI) has touched 999 in most places in the city while the permissible level is between 0-50 only.
Here another point should be mentioned. Many are claiming crop burning in Punjab and Haryana as the main culprit. But the fact is that crop burning only contributes to Delhi’s misery. Delhi’s air is polluted because of a mixture of factors. The farmers of those states burn crops once a year and yes the effect of such burning is highly dangerous. But, residents of Delhi are forced to inhale toxic air throughout the year. Till authorities put a curb on all menaces Delhi will remain a gas chamber. So don’t forget to bring your mask next time when you visit Delhi.