Is there an end to age-old story of bad air in Delhi?
New Delhi: One of the pains that the citizens of the national capital have to bear is the menacing air pollution. It is something which the people have no other option but to face. Breathing poisonous air is something they cannot escape. For them, the right to breathe only exists on paper and not in reality.
The thick blanket of smog has become a new normal in the national capital and adjoining areas. In the last six days, the air pollution has been at its one of the worst levels. Delhi has equalled its longest spell of severe air on Tuesday. For the six consecutive days, the air quality was recorded in a severe category.
These are numbers which cannot be denied. But the recent spell of pollution was so bad that people could experience it easily. The smog could be seen and it looked apocalyptic in all the senses and imagination. One could experience irritation in the eyes and it forced us to think about the damage that has been done of late.
It has become a time to accept that one of the greatest challenges of being in the national capital is the air pollution. The city of Delhi has struggled with bad air for a long time now. The story was the same earlier and there has been no improvement. The governments change and the story still remains the same.
The present incumbent AAP government had brought in an odd-even road rationing scheme to combat the air pollution in the city but it failed to get the desired results and had its own repercussions as people experienced difficulty in moving freely in the city. Earlier, the Congress government had enforced the use of clean fuel CNG in Delhi. It had its impact but the problem cropped up again.
For sure, the measures were not enough and called for more such measures. The recent spell was so bad that it forced us to think about the possible solutions and break free from the poisonous gases. The air of Delhi has been nightmarish for the people who have respiratory ailments. Every time there is a spike in air pollution, people with respiratory ailments struggle and make a trip to the doctor.
Question is how long this is going to continue. Is there any way out? Is it the case that we have not been serious towards the ill-effects of air pollution? Or, have we run out of ideas to combat the air pollution? We could see the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) coming into force on Tuesday. Will that be effective? Only time will tell. But the city certainly needs a long-term solution to this menace.
There have been countries where the problem of air pollution is taken in high regard and there is no laxity whatsoever to deal with it. It shows their seriousness towards their own health. Even after witnessing the air quality level quite close to 1,000 in parts of Delhi, no air emergency was declared. Air emergency was declared in Paris when it touched 114. That was their seriousness to raise the alarm and deal with the problem.
The city of Shanghai has had its own history of air pollution. But they had found success in containing it as they took the issue at war footing and imposed all possible measures to combat it. They realised the importance of clean air and addressed the problem aggressively. They left no stone unturned and brought in all the possible steps to curb it.
Now, it is the time when the Delhi government should also rope in experts and take this problem head-on with aggressive measures. It is like now or never. It is time to take ownership and do whatever possible to make the city’s air breathable. The age-long story of bad air should vanish and vanish soon.