“I durst not laugh for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.”-William Shakespeare
Living nowadays in Delhi isn’t costlier in terms of money but is in terms of health. If you are a Delhi Walla(Resident Of Delhi) then you must have experienced the winter’s dense blinding smog, the stinging morning atmosphere, and the polluted air which sucks the lungs daily. But pollution is the side story of every country and city. So, what makes Delhi’s air pollution story most interesting? What are the factors behind Delhi’s worst air pollution?
Here Are the 4 Factors Which Play a Key Role in Delhi’s Air Pollution
1-Overpopulation with Overconsumption
Overpopulation refers to a population that exceeds the carrying capacity of a habitat or an environment. But what makes overpopulation more dangerous is overconsumption. Overpopulation doesn’t count as a serious issue if it hasn’t connected with overconsumption because for once a populated country with a limited consumption can cope with its problems with the help of technology but hopefully can’t with the presence of overconsumption.
How overpopulation can be a meager issue in contrast to overconsumption and if it is then how overconsumption is responsible for air pollution in Delhi?
Overpopulation is a problem but when it associates with overconsumption. For example Beijing, the capital of China which is the most populous and once the world no 1 polluted city and now comes on 122 number in the scale of pollution.
Why? Because though there is the presence of a massive population but so not the overconsumption of resources, therefore, Beijing has eradicated their problem of pollution by settling their consumption under the limit, they have reduced the consumption of coal by 50% and limited the quota of buying cars by 100000 in 2018, annually.
A similar story is of Delhi, the most polluted and populated city globally but what’s create the difference between them is Delhi’s consumption of resources in contrast to Beijing’s which is high.
- E.g Delhi roads are so packed with running engines that in 2018, the registered number of motor vehicles in Delhi, India, amounted to over 11.2 million and if we correlate this fact with a statement of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) then they have declared vehicular emission as a major contributor to Delhi’s increasing air pollution.
- The dust from roads which is responsible for around 36 to 66 percent of PM10 pollutants in Delhi is the result of running vehicles and constructions in Delhi.
- According to the 2018 report of Premier environment research body TERI, the top sources of PM2.5 in winter months were industry 30%, transport 28%, dust 17%, and others 10%.
2-Burning Of Stubble
Before modernization, in the field of agriculture, the farmers use to harvest the crops manually but when modern technologies and equipment arrive in the farming, it ends up rising the practices of stubble burning among the farmers in Punjab and Haryana sides.
Now how is this practice responsible for the rise of air pollution in Delhi?
When the farmers use machines to harvest their crop, some part of their harvest is being left over by the machines while harvesting and to prevent the time and labor cost what small farmers do is, burn the rest of the leftover (known as stubble burning).
Delhi’s pollution spike in a hazardous range mostly in the arrival of October because October is the time when farmers harvest their crops.
Now what connects it with the worsening of pollution in Delhi is, since Delhi geographically shares its border with Punjab and Haryana hence the particles of the stubble burning directly enter the region of Delhi and end up covering the atmosphere with thick layers of smoke.
3-Diwali: The Festival of Harmful Air
Every year in the name of God people welcome Diwali with the burning of crackers due to which every year after the day of Diwali, Delhi’s AQI spikes in Hazardous parameter.
Diwali is though a festive of joy but it ends up creating a problem for Delhiites and it’s all because of burning crackers.
Some facts to stress are
The snake tablet is equivalent to 464 cigarettes.
The laad (string of 1,000 crackers) is equivalent to 277 cigarettes,
The fuljhadi (sparkler) is equivalent to 74 cigarettes,
The chakri (spinning firecracker) is equivalent to 34 cigarettes and the anar (flower pot) is equivalent to 34 cigarettes.
Now even if a Delhiite says he/she doesn’t smoke, eventually he/she is.
But the burning of crackers doesn’t affect Delhi’s air in the long term although it does damage the air quality but exists for a temporary period.
4-Winters And Winds
The stubble burning and bursting of cracker doesn’t affect the quality of air if they wouldn’t be a part of winters. why? because in winter the lower air is cold and dense and above from it, it’s covered with the warm and cold layer, ultimately this whole phenomenon results in the trapping of air pollutants for a longer period in the atmosphere and makes the particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) stay on surface for much more time causing increase in Delhi’s pollution.
According to the scientist at the India Metrological Department, currently the northwesterly winds are bringing in the fume from crop stubble burning in Harayana and Punjab side and also because of the presence of steady calm wind and absence of good wind speed, the pollutants are not able to disperse properly and results in harming the air for much more longer period of time.
Remedies To Combat Delhi’s Air Pollution
2+3 small things that can help us to fight Delhi’s air pollution
- Make your home a place to breathe good air, install the air purifier in your house, and plant plants in your balcony or any other suitable space.
- Since the transport sector plays one of the major causes of Delhi air pollution so the govt. needs to promote and subsidize the manufacturing of electric vehicles to alternate the petrol running engines with electric ones.
- Since 75% of electricity comes from coal hence more and more govt. buildings and private buildings should be encouraged to adopt solar energy systems because the more usage of solar energy, the less use of fossil fuel.
- Wear a mask, whenever you go out, do wear an N95 mask to save your lungs from getting exposed to hazardous air.
- Keep Track of what you eat. When the human body is exposed to polluted air, there is an increase in the formation of free radicals which can cause damage to the human immune system. Eat anti-oxidant rich food which should be consumed adequately.
But these remedies are just a bandage to a big wound. If we want to combat Delhi’s air pollution then we have learned from our neighboring countries and cities like
Beijing whose government has formulated action plans with time-bound which include specific targets such as restricting the total number of vehicles in Beijing to six million by the end of 2017, reducing coal consumption to 50% and 80 percent by 2020, and meeting annual average PM 2.5 concentration of micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) by 2017.
Air pollution in Delhi is surging day by day and so do the diseases such as cancer, asthma, and other lung diseases. We have our neighboring countries and cities like London and Beijing which has severely suffered from the consequences of air pollution but their time-bounded action plans and efficiency in Implementing them have successfully eliminated their problem of pollution which have set an example on how to combat and control air pollution. Delhi can and should learn from them before it takes a much bigger face.
We also have to take initiatives along with the government in order to tackle pollution. The government also has to take stance on air pollution. They have to address air pollution as an important issue.