Taking the air into our hands

Have you seen the latest selfie trend with air masks? That recently becomes a specialty of the Capital state. Due to the growing air pollution in Delhi despite the introduction of CNG, odd and even license numbers and even an expansion in the metro route to curb on road traffic, Delhi has managed to hit the highest recorded numbers of air pollution till date. We have the 11th most polluted state of the world in our midst officially now.

The plan of action started taking shape after the CJI emphatically stated “Do you want to wait till people start dying? People are gasping for breath,”. The report of the Central Pollution Control Board stated that the pollution had increased PM2.5 levels from 60 in 2011 to 119 in 2015. The geography of Delhi also goes against its nature. The Indian capital is landlocked, with few avenues for flushing toxic air out of the city unlike, say, Mumbai. It is also located in a highly polluted airshed and badly affected by the industrial and agricultural activity across the northern plains of India. The World Health Organization recommends that PM2.5 is kept below 10 as an annual average. It says exposure to average annual concentrations of PM2.5 of 35 or above is associated with a 15% higher long-term mortality risk.

The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) (Union Territories) Rules, 1983 sets standards for release of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. The shifting of factories to the outskirts of Delhi had been a step in the right direction. However, there needs to be an increase in the guidelines to get Delhi back to normal. The government has decided to collaborate with CSIR NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute), a science research and development institute of the government of India for the implementation and establishing of the systems to fight the menace of pollution. Some steps being taken are- A committee led by the chief secretary and the environment secretary will, with the central government, explore the possibilities of creating artificial rain over Delhi to bring down the level of dust in the air, Delhi government’s environment department will launch a mobile app immediately to enable the public to report cases of garbage burning etc.

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Riya Prem Raaj
Riya Prem Raaj
A law graduate, avid reader and recent blogger. Travelling and music are her cup of coffee and the best quote to describe her would be “Fantasy her world, books her home”.