Delhi's pollution (My right to breathe)

Published on - December 06, 2021

Issues related to Environment & Pollution

Source: The Economic Times

Context:

The author talks about Delhi's pollution.

 

Editorial Insights:

  • Every year (in the recent past) arrival of winter marks the arrival of nightmares for Delhi.
  • Because in current winter millions in the NCR choking in the gas chamber & gasping for the fresh air.
  • Against this backdrop, the author talks about the few steps to tackle Delhi's pollution.

 

Delhi Pollution:

As per the World Air Quality Index Project, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) during Nov 1-15 is the worst at 312 compared to other global cities like Beijing, Canberra, etc.

Further India has much deeper raising doubts about the quality of its urbanization because among the 30 most polluted cities in the world 22 are in India.

Recently MoEFCC has submitted a report to the UNFCCC regarding factors of pollution:

  • Energy generation (largely coal-based) major culprit that has a 44% share in GHG emissions.
  • Manufacturing & Construction 18%,
  • Agriculture 14%,
  • Transport 13%,
  • Industrial processes & product use 8%,
  • Waste burning 3%.

 

Further, the reasons for poor air quality for Delhi as per SAFAR is:

  • 30% was due to stubble burning,
  • 22% transport,
  • 18% external burning,
  • 12% industries,
  • 4% bio-fuels,
  • 8% dust &
  • 6% others.

 

Steps & Challenges:

  • India to replace coal in energy generation, solar & wind is the way to go.
  • In this regard, the Indian PM has committed that 50% of India’s energy will be from renewable sources by 2030.
  • However Indian solar energy model is heavily tilted towards corporate solar farms, whereby setting up large solar farms on degraded or less fertile lands.
  • Though the current solar farms are efficient in producing energy, experts vie that govt needs encourage fixing solar trees in fertile land at equal spacing & at a height of 10 feet.
  • The benefit is that solar trees become the third crop for the farmers earning them regular income throughout the year.
  • The projects like Delhi’s Ujwa KVK land will help farmers go for solar farming & help in achieving the ambitious doubling farmers income by 2022-23.

 

Tackling the stubble burning:

The Centre needs to sit down with neighboring states & come up with a plan

To reduce the rice area in the Punjab-UP-Haryana belt which is already:

  • Depleting the water table,
  • Creating methane & nitrous oxide,
  • To incentivize farmers to switch to other crops through better returns tan in rice cultivation.

 

Tackling Vehicular Pollution:

  • India needs a massive drive towards electric vehicles (EVs) & later towards green hydrogen when it becomes competitive with fossil fuels.
  • Scaling up, EVs quickly demands creating charging stations on a war footing like the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
  • At the same time, lawmakers need to expedite the process by changing the rules & regulations & providing upfront subsidies on EVs.
  • Lastly, Delhi also needs a good carbon sink by rejuvenating the ridge area with dense forests & developing thick forests on both sides of the Yamuna.

 

Concluding Remarks:

It is high time for all the stakeholders to take up the responsibility in tackling Delhi pollution. Without robust, resilient & rigorous policy & mechanism, tackling Delhi’s pollution sustainably is difficult.