06 Jun The State of Air: who is to be blamed?
AQI, pollution masks, Air purifiers, stubble burning, terms that were unknown some years back are today the discussion pointers in every household. And turbo happy seeders, BIO CNG, biocoal, kedia initiative terms that matter much more still remain elusive. Who is to be blamed? Is media partial? Are politicians playing a blame game? Or are the so-called informed citizens like you and I being too ignorant?
Air quality index in Delhi, touched 999 parts per million which is the maximum recorded level. In any sanely governed society, this high level of pollution, would solicit a certain amount of shock and sense of emergency, among the governing and the governed.
As much as we wake up to the smog and noise of pollution in the month of October-November each year, several studies point out, that Delhi’s air is severely poor, almost 65% of the days in a year.
Despite this finding the narrative that finds the best uptake is -that stubble burning is the cause of this air quality crisis in Delhi. It’s important to delegitimise this narrative and put facts as facts. In the same breath I am not saying that stubble burning is not polluting, it indeed is and it needs stopped, but my only limited contention is that it’s not the only cause of air pollution in Delhi.
Let me give you some statistics. As per an IIT-Kanpur study, the main source of pollution in Delhi is dust, emanating largely from the roads and the constriction sites. The entire city of Delhi has had the sign of “work in progress”; for some time, massive demolition and constriction activities at Kidwai Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Pragati Maidan etc.
Another major source of pollution, is vehicular pollution. 25% of this vehicular pollution is due to trucks that enter Delhi. Despite the supreme court order 2004, to build a by-pass rood, it is still under construction and these polluting vehicle zoom through the gas chamber of Delhi. The central govt. made an ambitious vehicles policy, aimed at scrapping all commercial vehicles, that have crossed 20 years, but the prime-minister’s office was made the scheme voluntary rather than compulsory. I ask why?
Burning of coal by thermal power plants, fire at the expired, but still operational land fill sites Bhalaswa, Ghazipur and Okhla, industries emitting pollutants, open burning of wastes by municipal workers, tandoors, diesel gensets -all these together pollute air. Despite strictures from several courts of the land fills emit high levels of toxicity, I again ask why?
You see the connect in these example that I just quoted? Any common denominator between real estate tycoons and this state of pollution?
Let me give you some scientific data. October is the month when paddy is harvested. Within 3 week of harvesting wheat is sown. In Punjab, Haryana, UP belt, the crucial time for wheat crop to mature is mid-April. In order for it to reach full maturity and give maximum yield the farmer is forced to sow it latest by is November so that it grows for a full period of 150 days. Added to this complication is the Punjab Preservation of Sub Soil Water Act 2009, which bans sowing paddy before 15 may. This leaves the farmer with very little time to sow & reap paddy and then prepare the field for wheat in just 20 days.
And now you world ask, how come this appears to be a trade secret and how come we are not aware of these difficulties? Farmers, who are literally our anna dattas – farmers who contribute 16% of our total GDP are being penalised, just because they are the soft targets?
History is replete with examples, where farmers have been oppressed, but not any longer, I would not support that and I am here to voice their concern.
Fancy masks, ever fancier air purifiers, get advertised and disappear from the shelves … what about turbo seeders, residue incorporation initiators, organic concoctions to speed up stubble decomposition. Why isn’t media focussing on these?
Spread the awareness, join hands to collect the funds, partner with government for such initiatives. It we can stand for Nirbhaya, if we can join hands for Anti-corruption, if we could tweet re-tweet about #metoo, time was come to stand for the issue of or pollution in totality and not one cause of it.