“There is something cyclical about the air pollution debate in Delhi – almost like the seasonal cycle of air pollution itself. When air pollution control slows down and the courts step in to demand action against the killer pollution, especially toxic vehicular fumes, the city gets swamped with ‘scientific facts’ to prove that all other pollution sources matter more than the vehicles. Instead of science becoming an enabler, it confounds action.”
Roychowdhary highlights what IIT scientists failed to tell the government, such as the following: 1) “the pollution inventory and apportionment studies that assess relative contribution of different sources are looked at in isolation and not within a coherent framework of health protection. 2) Our scientists do not say that people are exposed to much higher health damaging pollutants than what occurs in ambient conditions. 3) People are exposed to a mixture of pollutants whose combined effect has serious health impact. and 4) Our air quality policies are cut off from the reported reality in the health sector. India is experiencing a rapid health transition, with a large and rising burden of chronic diseases, estimated to be more than half of all deaths and years lost to illness.”
He concludes, “Delhi has exhausted all soft options. Next generation air pollution control is about hard decisions. The city needs an implementation strategy before this winter to reduce traffic and vehicles, cut dieselization, scale up integrated public transport, facilitate walking and cycling, tax polluting modes, decide to implement Bharat Stage IV nationwide in 2015 and Euro VI in 2020 and put controls on other pollution sources. Our scientific community has an obligation to speak out on public health and enable the government to take strong action to reduce the health risk.” The Times of India. Read it on delhiair.org.