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“It is good that deadly and toxic air pollution in Delhi has become a national headline. But it is bad that as yet we are completely failing to deal with it and find answers that are commensurate with the scale of the problem. It is time to understand what we have done and the actions that need to be taken – urgently and decisively. Otherwise, next winter – just barely five months away – will be even more severe and even more hazardous. Let’s also be clear that while foreigners can choose not to live in polluted Delhi, most of us do not have that option. Let’s also be clear that home air purifiers and filters are not the solution – even if the rich of the city believe that they can shut down their houses and clean their own private air, it will not work.

Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment explains how and why “each year since 2007, pollution levels have risen to reach dangerously toxic levels today” and what must be done about it. “What needs to be done, most immediately, is to have an aggressive road map for clean fuel and vehicle technology in the country….The other steps are equally urgent – from monitoring air quality to smog alerts, so that we know when we are advised to take precautions because of bad air. But most critically – the game changer, if you can call it – is the need to massively augment our public transport systems – from bus, metro to footpaths and cycle tracks, so that we can take a bus and then cross the road or just walk. We also need car restraints – parking rates and fines for illegal parking need to be increased and then enforced. Today, we have a handful of cranes and sprinkling of traffic police to stop illegal parking. This cannot go on. In mid-1990, we published a report on air pollution and called it Slow Murder. That is what it is – deliberate and deadly. Nothing less.” Business Standard. Read it on

Sunita Narain: Delhi’s clean-air challenge