While Delhi chokes every winter, 64% of the toxic pollutants in the air come from outside the capital, and without cooperation from the center and neighbouring states, there’s no reprieve.
Despite significant improvement in Air Quality months ago, Delhi is again under the toxic cover of ‘severe’ air pollution. The AAP government has kept on its crusade against the poison filling in Delhiites’ lungs, but more often than not it finds itself alone in the fight.
Despite several measures, air quality has reached reached levels post Diwali in Delhi.
Despite several measures like ‘shutdown of Coal Powerplants’, ‘Odd-Even Scheme’ and ‘Pollution-free Community Diwali celebrations’, the national capital is again seeing particulate levels above the red line this winter. And while the state government is gearing up for another round of ‘Odd-Even’ for a temporary reprieve, the opposition loves exploiting the issue rather than joining the fight.
Don’t blame Delhiites: Arvind Kejriwal
In a recent press conference, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stated that only 36% of Delhi pollution is because of activities happening in Delhi or linked to its citizens. A recent TERI report on Air pollution observed that 64% of the toxic fine particulate matter in Delhi’s air in Winters comes from sources outside the capital. Similarly, only 26% of the air pollution in summers is due to activities inside Delhi.
While Delhi’s air pollution has become a bane for the citizens, it’s a popular topic across the country. Delhi’s citizens are blamed and looked at condescendingly for pollution the air in the capital. However, there is a long history of the practice of crop burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana which contributes to the suffering of Delhiites.
64% of the toxic fine particulate matter in Delhi’s air in Winters comes from sources outside the capital.
A story of blame-game and non-cooperation
Delhi’s governments have raised the issue of ‘Parali’ or crop burning induced pollution in winters for years. However, despite repeated appeals, state governments have shown a lack of political will to help the national capital’s cause. Rampant and sometimes government-backed crop burning in rural Haryana and Punjab increases the toxic cover overall north Indian states every winter.
Chief Minister Kejriwal said that air pollution is the most serious issue currently. Curbing it needs an approach where political parties put aside differences and tackle the problem together. Kejriwal said that the ‘Khattar and Captain governments’in Punjab and Haryana forced farmers to burn the stubble that pollutes Delhi post-Diwali.
While air quality reached and remained at hazardous levels in Delhi for the past several days, straw burning rapidly increased in 2019. As per the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre (PRSC), fire incidents increased from 2575 in 2018 to 3466 this year. Delhi also saw protests at Punjab and Haryana Bhawan where citizens expressed their anger against the governments.
AAP amplifies efforts while Centre keeps mum
With numerous reports giving mixed estimates of how much crop-burning contributes to Delhi’s pollutions, the truth remains hidden. However, the Delhi Government has an ongoing study with Washington University to observe the capital’s Air Quality in real-time.
As per CM Kejriwal, as part of the study teams have been sampling Delhi’s air on a daily basis for a year. The study will enable the government to tell Delhi’s pollution levels and the cause of pollutants with a gap of only 4 hours from 1st April 2020.
However, there has been no help from the BJP government in the center. AAP leader Gopal Rai recently tweeted that amid the protests against the burning of stubble in Haryana-Punjab, AAP women functionaries and women MLAs will offer roses to BJP National President Amit Shah.
So, while the Delhi government and citizens try hard to tackle air pollution, pollution from outside the capital remains the major source of the problem. Therefore, Delhi’s winters will remain gloomy and toxic unless efforts to tackle the air pollution are taken from the center and the neighboring states.