Namit Arora, member of the Delhi Dialogue Commission, an advisory body to the Government of NCT of Delhi, writes about what Delhi (the central and state governments and its residents) needs to do to fix the air pollution problem.
“…State and central governments must act collaboratively on the following initiatives.
- Increase public awareness of air pollution.
- Raise and enforce emission standards.
- Improve public transportation and traffic management.
- Discourage vehicle use
- Penalise big and non-compliant polluters.
- Reduce road and construction dust.
- Reduce domestic sources of pollution, improve waste management.
“…Citizens certainly need to do their part to help reduce air pollution through their daily actions. Our lack of civic sense and responsibility is legendary, and it needs to be raised via concerted public service messages and school education, as well as well-designed incentives and penalties. But that won’t be enough. What will it take to get our state and central governments to also tackle the big ticket items like emission standards, public transport, waste management, biomass burning, and dust reduction?
As with the switch to CNG 15 years ago, much of the recent activism on air pollution has emerged from our courts. Behind this lies the sad reality of disempowered pollution control boards, unmotivated bureaucracies, and politicians unwilling to prioritise measures unless they seem electorally important. But while Public Interest Litigation may be a useful tactic, it’s neither enough, nor a sustainable strategy. In a democracy, there’s no substitute for a critical mass of informed citizens. Clean air will not become the government’s priority unless citizens make it their priority. Citizen and media pressure is central to this change. We need to mobilise and have our voices heard through various citizen-led initiatives, such as “Help Delhi Breathe”. Let’s rise, agitate, and reclaim our right to clean air.” The Wire. Read the full column on delhiair.org.
Namit Arora is a member of the Delhi Dialogue Commission, an advisory body to the Government of NCT of Delhi. Most recently, he led the drafting of Delhi’s Solar Energy Policy and is now working on the problem of air pollution.