Tuesday, December 7, 2021
HomeAirlinesGo AirDelhi Air Emergency: Capital bending the curve but more action needed

Delhi Air Emergency: Capital bending the curve but more action needed

Delhi’s pollution levels should be reduced so that even when air speeds go down, cold air settles and episodes of high pollution strike, it can recover quickly 

It’s that choking winter for Delhi again. We are frustrated by this recurrence of pollution every year without fail. Nothing seems to change. Nobody cares.

But we must not allow our anguish to be short-lived so that the real action, which is essential for ensuring our right to clean air, does not get lost. High-volume acrimony to shift the blame is attention-grabbing, but it will not make the next winter better.

So as we move forward, we must keep in mind three questions. One, why does November continue to be a suffocating month for Delhi and who is responsible for this? Do not we know the cause of the problem?

Two, what has been done till now to combat air pollution and why is it not working? Three, what should be done so that we do not breathe in such toxic levels of pollutants?

First, it’s not rocket science to understand whether the pollution is generated locally, comes from neighbouring states or is a combination of both.

Take this winter, for instance. A day before Diwali, my colleagues at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) put out data that the air quality was better than ever before; they attributed this to the late rainfall and good wind speed.

Then Diwali was celebrated and crackers were burst. Their impact would have been bearable had the wind continued to blow. But this was also the time when two cyclonic systems were breaking into the country.

They led to the formation of an anti-cyclonic wind pattern over northern India, including Delhi. The still wind did not allow dispersion of the Diwali smog, which, combined with local pollutants, continued to fill the air.

Then came the smoke from stubble burning in neighbouring states—following a delayed paddy harvest because of the rains, farmers had set fire to their fields all at once,…

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