New Delhi: The National Capital Region is infamous for its terrible air quality - rated widely as one of the worst in the world. Diwali makes the situation apocalyptic and this year was hardly any better than years gone by. Even as the air quality remains in the 'Severe' category, there seems to be no political solution in the offing as the ruling AAP and BJP officials appear way too busy pointing fingers rather than looking for effective solutions.
Delhi's PM 2.5 levels are 10 to 20 times over what is considered safe by the World Health Organisation. Respiratory problems, burning eyes and throat and jarring cough are complaints not just coming in from children and the elderly but an increasing number of healthy adults as well. Locals shot themselves in the foot too when many flouted Supreme Court's order to burst 'green' crackers only between 2000hrs and 2200hrs on Diwali by lighting up well past midnight. And while they did so, politicians kept themselves busy by accusing one another on a range of issues.
While AAP has questioned why BJP's O P Sharma and Praveen Shankar Kapoor questioned SC's two-hour window for bursting crackers, BJP has hit back saying the ruling government here is trying to duck the blame. "Instead of focussing on vehicular pollution and local sources of dust, they blame parali (crop residue) burning and shift blame on neighbouring states. Delhi government should bring out a 'white paper' to tell people what it has done to address to the problem of pollution," Sharma was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
AAP and BJP leaders have been firing shots at one another even as states like Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have done little apart from making tall claims of having checked pollution. For now, heavy trucks - barring those carrying essential items - are prohibited from entering Delhi and the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Protection Authority has said it is keeping a close watch on pollution levels.
In addition, there are meetings galore. Then there is analysis. And then there are in-depth studies. Many feel that it is a yearly process of a lot of sitting and very little of acting. On Friday, two days after Diwali, Delhi's environment minister Imran Hussain discussed the deteriorating air quality but there was no word on counter measures for it. For now, Delhi's air quality is likely to remain firmly in the 'Severe' category till at least Saturday and may only fall to 'Very Poor' in the days thereafter.