Air pollution in Delhi has been one of the most discussed topics since 2017. The people of Delhi have faced the worst environmental conditions due to severe air pollution.
The situations are not under control yet. And they will never be, if necessary steps are not taken.
In 2019 the IQAir AirVisual presented the World Air Quality report, which has a list of the 30 most polluted cities in the world. Among these 30 cities, 21 are situated in India, and Delhi is one of them with the worst levels of air pollution.
Why is Delhi so polluted? What are the reasons? Let us discuss them.
Reasons for air pollution in Delhi
Before the pandemic period, Delhi breathed the cleanest air in September 2019. After 2019 the air quality was worse.
The situation was so fatal that the Delhians were covering their faces with masks even before the covid-19 breakdown.
But after the lockdown, industrial development was stopped entirely. There was no vehicle on the road. Consequently, the pollution level was decreasing.
However, as the lockdowns are withdrawn, the situations are going back to their previous condition.
So what are the actual reasons that are making so many changes in the air quality?
Delhi’s landlocked geographical position
Delhi is locked amid the cities like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. There is no space for the pollution to escape.
In Mumbai, Kerala and the other southern cities, the open space provided by the Arabian Sea helps a lot to reduce pollution.
But Delhi’s position not only seizes its own pollutions but also receives the pollution of the surrounding areas. And the result turns out to be horrible.
Crop burning is assumed to be the most dominating reason for air pollution. As Delhi is landlocked between the harvesting states like Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, the crop burning at the end of the season is a huge reason for air pollution.
To clean the land, the farmers burn the leftover straw and stubbles. This is the most convenient and cheap way for them to prepare the land for the next harvest.
Also, they have the misconception that burning the stubbles will bring the nutrients back into the soil. So every year, the pollutants created by stubble burnings worsen the air quality of Delhi.
The onset of winters
The act of stubble burning usually occurs at the beginning of November. At this time, the temperature starts falling, and the wind speed remains slow.
As a result, the dust particles fail to move properly and create stagnant smog.
Together the climate and stubble burning forms a lethal atmosphere that makes the citizens of Delhi suffer.
Delhi is the hub of small scale industries. The number of small industries is huge in Delhi, which results in air, water and soil pollution.
Delhi has nearly 3182 industries in the city. They contribute 18.6 percent of the total air pollution.
The construction sites of Delhi are one of the major contributors to air pollution. The construction sites produce fine dust particles that dissolve in the air very fast.
Along with that, there are at least 360 brick kilns in Delhi. The smoke emissions from these places circulate in the air and make the air unbreathable.
The DPCC or Delhi Pollution Control Committee, reports that 30 percent of the air pollution in Delhi results from construction sites.
The main sources of PM 2.5 in Delhi are vehicles. The vessels emit 20 percent of the total PM 2.5.
The trucks and tractors emit 9 percent of the pollution in Delhi. The motorbikes contribute up to 7 percent.
From the four-wheelers, the city gets 3 percent of the pollution. And the buses and three-wheelers add 3 percent and 5 percent respectively.
Commercial vehicles cause at least 1 percent of the pollution. Overall all the vehicle types together commence 41% of the total pollution.
Along with that you have the gases as well. 80% of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides are delivered through the vehicles only.
Therefore, the increasing numbers of transports in Delhi is a huge issue.
Though the government has banned the use of firecrackers, there is no full stop on the usage of it. Firecrackers are used on every occasion, which harms the environment severely.
Effects of poor air quality
Air pollution is one of the leading causes of deaths in India. It not only has its tribute to death rates, but it also impacts the environment and the economy of India. Let us discuss them too.
PM 2.5 causes the major health risks among the other pollutants. As they are extremely tiny, they can easily enter into the bloodstream and lungs. They can cause heart diseases and respiratory diseases.
For those who are already patients of these medical conditions, their state can get worse with the constant contact of the particulate matter (PM).
There are high chances of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, heart diseases and reduction in lung function.
Also, the pollutants can dissolve into the drinking water, which can cause water-borne diseases.
Sulphur and nitrogen emission through air pollution imprints its lethal effects on the natural ecosystem. Another harmful effect of air pollution is that it can decrease the ecosystem’s power of capturing carbon.
Ozone gas emission
Ozone gas emission is one of the prior results of air pollution. This can lead to lung-related issues.
Also, it can make the health issues like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema get worse. As per the research of AQI or air quality index, Ozone has become one of the prevalent pollutants in Delhi, along with PM.
The nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides released in the air by the burning of fossil fuel results in acid formation. These acids are brought down to the ground by rain, fog or snow.
When the acids come in contact with soil, water, plants and crops, it makes particles polluted and poisonous.
For air pollution, India’s 1.28% GDP is spent on health issues. Also, India loses 5.4% of its GDP for burning fossil fuels.
Air pollution policy measures- steps taken against the air pollution
Grade response action plan
In 2016 CPCB had designed an action plan that the Supreme Court accepted in 2017. After that, the Grade response action plan was implanted in Delhi.
The plan had several actions for Delhi that were supposed to be taken gradually to better the air quality.
The odd-even scheme
The odd-even scheme was initiated by Arvind Kejriwal. According to this scheme, private vehicles ending with odd digits will be allowed on the roads of Delhi on odd dates and vice versa.
This was applicable for the other states’ private cars as well if they used the roads of Delhi.
This scheme was quite successful in its first phase, but the second phase was not that praiseworthy.
National clean air programme
In 2019 the National clean air programme was launched. It was a five-year action plan.
The program was initiated with a pan-India air quality monitoring network and awareness instructions for the citizens.
The plan was developed around the 102 most polluted cities in India.
Guidelines by NDMA
The NDMA or National Disaster Management Authority issued some guidelines for the citizens that are as follows.
In spite of so many actions by the government, the issue has remained unchanged. The lockdown period had brought a ray of hope which soon dissolved into reality.
Until there is a control on the primary sources of the pollution, there will be no betterment in the air quality. However, this sounds quite impossible.
This is a warning for the other states. They should take Delhi as an example and take necessary precautionary steps to never face such severity.
Shirsendu Roy Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of REVIEWCIRCLES. He is Bachelor of Computer Science has experience of 7+ years in Web Development, Technology Blogging, Review Video Production. His passion for solving problems shifted him to consumer electronics sector and led to form this platform to influence consumer to take proper purchasing decision.