As the calendar turns its pages, Delhi finds itself entrenched in an annual battle against its notorious adversary – air pollution. With the air quality lingering in the “very poor” category, the National Green Tribunal has sounded the alarm, directing central and Delhi authorities to enforce “stringent measures” to rectify the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the Delhi-NCR region. This directive comes amidst a palpable sense of urgency, with authorities given until November 20 to submit a detailed action taken report.
As the sun dipped below the horizon at 9 pm on a recent Friday, Delhi’s air quality index stood at 398, marking it as “very poor” according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). Crossing the ominous threshold of 400 AQI would officially plunge the city into the dreaded “severe” category, a level of pollution that poses severe health risks.
This directive from the National Green Tribunal follows its observation that, despite prior efforts, there has been no significant improvement in the capital’s air quality. The tribunal, acting on suo motu cognizance of media reports highlighting the worsening air quality, issued notices to key entities, including the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM).
A comprehensive order ensued, referring to a report from CAQM indicating that the AQI in Delhi was ‘very poor’ at the close of October due to unfavorable meteorological and climatic conditions. In response, the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) Stage II was proactively implemented on October 21, indicating the severity of the situation.
The GRAP, a framework devised for Delhi-NCR, classifies actions into four stages based on AQI levels: Stage I (Poor – AQI 201-300), Stage II (Very Poor – AQI 301-400), Stage III (Severe – AQI 401-450), and Stage IV (Severe Plus – AQI above 450).
The tribunal, led by Justice Prakash Shrivastava, underscored the need for comprehensive management of ambient air quality. However, a notable gap was identified in the CPCB report, which suggested technical interventions without detailing their application or outcomes. This raises questions about the efficacy of the suggested measures and their impact on curbing pollution.
While the DPCC, CAQM, and Delhi government reported taking steps to control air pollution, the tribunal expressed dissatisfaction with the ground-level results, noting that the situation had worsened. This sentiment aligns with the sentiments of Delhi’s residents, who continue to grapple with the tangible effects of poor air quality on their health and well-being.
The tribunal, recognizing the gravity of the situation, urged the concerned agencies to reassess their strategies and formulate effective solutions to ensure that the AQI in Delhi and NCR is maintained within permissible limits. The lack of visible improvement prompted the tribunal to direct the authorities to implement stringent measures promptly.
The matter is now slated for further proceedings later in November, creating an air of anticipation for concrete actions to alleviate Delhi’s persistent air quality challenges. The city’s residents, increasingly vocal about the detrimental effects of air pollution on their health, livelihoods, and overall quality of life, eagerly await tangible steps towards a cleaner and healthier future.
As the directives unfold, it is imperative for all stakeholders, including government bodies, environmental agencies, and citizens, to collaborate effectively. The battle against air pollution requires a multipronged approach, addressing the various sources of pollution that plague Delhi – from vehicular emissions and construction activities to crop residue burning.
A critical aspect of the tribunal’s directive is the emphasis on a holistic response, encompassing not only reactive measures but also proactive strategies. The tribunal rightly points out that addressing air pollution demands a nuanced understanding of its multifaceted sources and their interplay with meteorological and climatic conditions.
While Delhi continues its quest for clean air, it is essential to acknowledge the interconnectedness of environmental, health, and socio-economic factors. Implementing stringent measures is a necessary step, but sustained progress requires a long-term commitment to sustainable practices, renewable energy adoption, and green urban planning.
The upcoming weeks will likely witness heightened scrutiny of the action taken by authorities, setting the stage for a more transparent and accountable approach to combatting air pollution. Delhi’s residents, the true stakeholders in this battle, deserve a city where they can breathe freely and lead healthy lives.
As the narrative unfolds, it is incumbent upon all of us to contribute actively – whether through responsible waste management, conscious transportation choices, or advocacy for green policies. Delhi’s battle for clean air is not just a legal or regulatory matter; it is a collective responsibility that demands united and sustained efforts from every individual, organization, and authority.
In the heart of this bustling metropolis, where every breath tells a story of resilience and determination, Delhi awaits a breath of fresh air – an air that is clean, invigorating, and emblematic of a city that cares for its people and their well-being.