Dear Delhi, Wake Up And Do Something About The Pollution In Your City!

So. There is a health emergency imposed in Delhi, the odd-even scheme has started yet again, educational institutions have been shut down till November 5, smog has covered Delhi and the nearby areas, respiratory problems are on the rise (with people breathing air that is like smoking 25 cigarettes a day) and the dependence on air purifying masks has increased. Yet, the people as well as the government have a callous attitude on this pertinent issue.

We have started to think that this happens every year, and will subside, why do we need to be so worried about it? But with the AQI (Air Quality Index) soaring above 700 in some places, this attitude may soon kill you with a demonising respiratory disease.

What Causes This Deadly Pollution?

One of the major reasons is vehicular emissions. Do you know Delhi has the highest number of vehicle owners in India, followed by Bangalore and Chennai?

In fact, the total number of cars in Delhi is more than Chennai and Bangalore combined. This is despite Delhi having an extensive metro network, unlike many other cities. Even though measures have been taken to curb the number of diesel and petrol cars, still, cars have led to a lot of PM 2.5 emissions, which is the deadliest amongst all, to an average of 198.

Also, vehicular emissions cause about 63% of the pollution in Delhi. But, how can we take public transport? It decreases our prestige, right? And who cares about pollution when we can install air purifiers at home?

The second major reason is the road dust from construction work. As we know, Delhi is overpopulated and we need to provide ample residence to the people. And while building these houses, a lot of material like cement, bricks, etc. further add up to the dust. This also leads to cutting tree cover, leading to the problem of deforestation and increased pollution, since trees have a pivotal role in controlling the same. There is no other major metropolitan in North India which can ease the burden of Delhi.

Another reason is the burning of paddy crops in neighbouring states, namely Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Farmers do it because it is the cheapest way and the most viable alternative to get rid of waste. But the smoke that rises is directed towards Delhi, leading to more pollution, as the smoke particles get locked in the atmosphere, and get mixed with the cold and damp air that indicates the start of the winter season, making smog.

Crackers burst during the Diwali season also lead to the AQI reaching deadly levels, and with the addition of the cold and damp weather, the situation gets worse, leading to the formation of smog.

Not only does it add to air pollution, but also to land and noise pollution. But why do we care? After all, if we don’t burn crackers for one day, Hinduism will be in danger, right?

Another major factors is the industrial pollution coming from the neighbouring states. While all factories have been relocated from Delhi to the neighbouring cities, the pollution caused by them continues to impact Delhi. This problem worsens due to the weak enforcement of laws related to controlling pollution in these states.

What Are The Impacts?

Pollution impacts every one, but it majorly impacts pregnant women, children and people with respiratory diseases. Some major impacts are listed below.

  • Respiratory problems, like dry cough, wheezing, sinusitis, sore throat, breathlessness, etc.
  • Threat to lung functioning, reduced lung capacity, possibility of lung cancer.
  • Headaches, eye irritation.
  • Heart diseases. Certain gases prevent oxygen in blood and this can lead to reduction in supply of oxygen to heart, asthma and other diseases.
  • Premature birth or birth defects in certain cases.

What Can We Do?

Now that we know the reasons and the impacts, we need to think about the short term as well as the long-term solutions.

  • First of all, we need to stop taking the hazardous level of air pollution lightly and understand the gravity of the situation.
  • Encourage the use of public transport and make the system more efficient. Sorry, Delhi people, lay your pride a little lower, otherwise you will die coughing. Also encourage car pooling and walking or cycling short distances.
  • All construction work should be halted till the time the AQI levels do not go reduce to a decent level.
  • Regular pollution checks should be enforced and using fuel-efficient vehicles should be encouraged.
  • The use of machines should be encouraged for burning the paddy crop stubs in the neighbouring states and these should be provided at low costs.
  • More and more trees should be planted to increase green cover that can help in fighting pollution.
  • Laws to check the pollution emissions of factories should be implemented strictly and those who exceed limits should be closed down.
Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Anindito Mukherjee for Reuters.
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Find out more about her campaign here.

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