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Delhi takes action on air pollution amidst a health crisis

Copyright: richie0703 / 123RF Stock Photo
Smog surrounds the Red Fort in Delhi.

Mired in a public health crisis due to depleted air quality, Delhi is taking action on air pollution. 

“Immediate measures will be taken against the complaints received on Central Pollution Control Board portal [CPCB] or Sameer app [which provides updates on Air Quality Index (AQI) readings],” commented a senior official. Complaints registered with the CPCB alone numbered 14,847 as of November 1st. 

The action on air pollution, according to Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev, will include arrests of and the filing of first incident reports against those guilty of garbage burning and prosecution of the same. Impounding of diesel generator sets and fines against those in possession of them will also occur. The Delhi government has imposed an odd-even scheme to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads of the national capital, which has been credited with removing 1.5 million cars from capital traffic. In addition, pollution hotspots will be scrutinised in the push.

“All the thirteen hotspots shall be monitored by the deputy commissioners of municipal corporations on an hourly basis,” added the official. “Depending upon the trends or developments in air pollution, additional measures will be taken to mitigate the same…Similarly, each DMC [Delhi Municipal Corporation] commissioner will monitor the situation on an hourly basis through a cell to be constituted by him or her in each corporation.” The pollution hotspots in the national capital include Okhla Phase-II, Narela, Bawana, Mundka, Punjabi Bagh, Dwarkar, Wazirpur, Rohini, Vivek Vihar, Anand Vihar, R. K. Puram, Jahangirpuri, and Ashok Vihar, as identified by the Environment (Pollution Control and Prevention) Authority. Of these, Wazirpur, Anand Vihar, Ashok Vihar, Vivek Vihar, and Bawana are considered critically polluted. 

The pollution crisis in the national capital has been castigated by the Supreme Court. “People are dying and it can’t happen in a civilised country,” justices said. They have called for action on factors contributing to the capital’s pollution crisis, including crop burning in neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, threatening to hold officials – “state governments, chief secretaries, district collectors and entire police machinery” – accountable if stubble burning continues to occur.

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