It is a common practice that the government and the people of India often neglect the seriousness of Air Pollution as just a winter issue. It has been found that a lot of them can be seen restricting the problem to New Delhi only. With the advent of the same government again, it has become absolutely necessary to understand the problems. Modi Government must Tackle Air Pollution with measures that go beyond the tactics that can only be used in urban land.
There is an instant need to understand that the problem of Air Pollution is global and not seasonal at all. Soon enough most parts of the country will be reeling in dust particles that would be a common occurrence throughout the day. While the spike in pollution usually goes to hazardous levels during winters, several parts of the country have poor air quality throughout the year.
Particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur are few pollutants that combine to form Air pollution. While PM 2.5 are direct indicators of Air Pollution, the population-weighted annual concentration taken through various satellite data has gone beyond an estimate of 91 microgram/m3 in 2017. This data is only going to increase and become thrice the national standards in the coming year.
With each passing year, the health impact of poor air quality has become staggering. While it was supposed to reduce average life expectancy by 1.5 years, new reports have notified that life expectancy will be reduced by more than 2 years now. Which is to say that 1 out of every eighth death in the country is because of air pollution.
While there are a lot of sources that contribute to Air Pollution, Industries, Power Plants, Vehicles, construction dust, and household sources all are most important sources of Air Pollution and are a major concern. In India alone, household fuels used for cooking and heating purposes are the biggest contributor to the PM 2.5 values in the country. Coal burning in power plants and industries is a close second and third largest contributor.
Since the kind of measures needed to scale the influence of Air Pollution requires a geographical understanding and monitoring steps, there’s a need for the central government to be at their toes doing work for the betterment of the pollution level across the country; not just cities like Delhi which are considered to be the only polluted cities by laymen.
The newly elected Narendra Modi government’s works and largely adheres by The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) made by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in January 2019. This is a document that creates city-specific templates from the past while completely missing governance gaps. The body reinitiates the same old plans that were sorted as administrative solutions and never trends into questioning the real problem of Air Pollution in the entire country.
The new Modi government should take up the lead in crafting and implementing strategies for effective nationwide control over pollution. The present system is mostly judiciary driven. What we need is a greater autonomous system that should be provided to pollution control boards (PCBs) who have a team of experts dealing with the problem head-on.
The NCAP needs to be strengthened by focusing on efforts that prioritize solution that present short term plans which are executed in a way that governs reforms in a longer term.
Prioritizing concrete actions such as understanding the dispersed sources of pollution and putting monitoring solutions in place that can tackle transportation, households, waste burning, and construction in a more centralized level.
For example, the government should imply more strict policies that aim at higher levels in the manufacturing process of vehicles. That is to say that these vehicles should comply with Bharat Stage VI norms that completely check them for their proper functioning rather than periodic inspections.
Indian Industries and power plants that burn coal are the second and third largest sources in India. The average national exposure to Air Pollution is thus raised higher which also causes the big burden of diseases. The MoEFCC has introduced new emissions standards back in 2015. These standards called for pollution control equipment to be installed. However, the standard has never complied with the regulations and revised timelines have often resulted in critical consequences.
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was an important step towards revamping the use of household solid fuel in the country. Since household solid fuel usage is the largest contributor to the pollution exposure of the country, making sure that LPG, which is a clean fuel is provided at affordable prices. It can’t be done overnight but taking step towards making it possible should be done.
Public transport that is affordable should be put into place. Non-motorised transport that helps reduce the emission by vehicles on the road should be preferred. Also, strategies that cumulatively deal with long-term goals to fix this problem should be implemented.
Air Pollution is a problem that is more complex than it seems on the surface. The newly appointed Modi Government must tackle Air pollution in ways that are based on centralized ideas that go beyond the urban population. Tackling the big sources and then implementing new policies that try to cut the sources off to the ground must be followed.
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