New Delhi: Each time visibility drops in the city and a thick blanket of smog engulfs the National Capital Region (NCR), alarm bells blare and blame-game begins. While debates and discussions have begun defining winter months here, none of it is much heard of once the sky clears up. This despite air quality continuing to be extremely toxic.
Take the current situation in and around Delhi as an example. On Tuesday morning, the infamous PM2.5 levels at ITO hovered around 200 at 0600hrs according to international pollution monitoring website aqicn.org. This is double of the safe figure of 100. The PM2.5 levels in Lodhi Road around the same time was at 190. Shockingly, at the Delhi Technological University on Bawana Road, levels were registered at 463 at 0600 hrs and dropped to 353 in the hour that followed. While pollution levels do tend to fall as the day progresses, almost every monitoring station confirms that the dip is too marginal to be deemed conducive for good health. Adjoining areas like Gurugram, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad hardly fare better.
Yet, there are no alarm bells, no debates, no discussions and no plan on ground. Construction continues unabated, trucks roll in and out and the usual vehicular traffic flows with occupants inside and pedestrians outside blissfully breathing a toxic cocktail called air. Interestingly, burning of paddy stubble in adjoining states of Punjab and Haryana in November and December has often been blamed for Delhi's poor air quality. April though sees none of it and yet, the air remains as it is - deadly.
Recently, Delhi became the first Indian city to roll out Euro VI fuel - dubbed the world's cleanest petrol and diesel. Many though have agreed that while it is a big step in the right direction, its benefits can only materialise when cars are upgraded as well. Even then, vehicular pollution is believed to only be a part of a larger problem. Environmentalist say that while effective on-ground measures are placed, there is an urgent need to address the issue daily - even on days which aren't shrouded in smog, the incorrect visual parameter for pollution for the majority.