Category Archives: Media

Delhi smog: What authorities promised and what they delivered: Hindustan Times

“Pollution levels in Delhi have remained in the severe zone for more than a week, triggering a health crisis and an international debate. But not enough for all stakeholders to get their act together to pull Delhi and its neighbouring areas out of the mess.

Last winter, the Capital experienced its worst smog in 17 years and in January this year, the Centre notified the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). But no stakeholder – be it the Delhi or the Union governments or Delhi’s civic agencies – has been able to keep its promise to put in place effective pollution control measures.

Here’s what was promised and what was implemented.

DELHI GOVERNMENT

• Bus fleet

What it promised: After the two odd-even drives last year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had said it would augment the bus fleet as Delhi needs 11,000 buses to boost public transport as mandated by the Delhi High Court.

What happened: Instead, Delhi’s fleet reduced from 5,852 last year to 5,425 now. The government said it could not procure new buses because of non-availability of land to park them. But there has been a clear lack of urgency from the government’s side to push the land-owning agency, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), to get the space allotted.

It was only on Monday – after the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) and the NGT rapped the government – that state transport minister Kailash Gahlot wrote to DDA, seeking 135 acres of land.

The Cabinet has now decided to bring 2,000 more buses but that would take at least six more months. Even after that, a deficit of around 3,600 buses would still remain.

 Polluting vehicles

What it promised: A crackdown on polluting vehicles and stringent checking of pollution under control (PUC) certificates.

What happened: With a compliance rate of 23.2%, most vehicles in Delhi continue to remain out of the PUC
checking network. The transport department is yet to complete creating a cloud-based system to keep a track of PUC renewals.

• Public information

What it promised: People would be alerted through SMSs and the air quality index (AQI) would be updated on LED screens

What happened: Public information dissemination was a complete failure with the government failing to set up hoardings. No information regarding air quality and dos and don’ts was disseminated via hoardings and radio ads.”  Read more of the Hindustan Times article about what was promised and implemented on dust control, interstate coordination, RFID for commercial vehicles, waste burning, parking management, and more on DelhiAir.org

Delhi smog: What authorities promised and what they delivered

As Delhi chokes, air pollution at centre of political slugfest: LiveMint

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“Delhi pollution, due to crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, has become a political flashpoint between AAP, Congress and BJP governments in the states.

“Even as the threat of air pollution fails to abate, it has become a political flashpoint among the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress—the three parties and otherwise bitter rivals heading governments in the states of Delhi, Haryana and Punjab respectively.

With the seasonal spike in air pollution becoming an annual phenomenon, the question being asked is whether it will, like the promise of development, become part of the electoral lexicon in a metropolis like Delhi.

On Monday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal criticized the Delhi government for failing to rise above electoral interests.

“In fact, your reference to the helplessness of farmers in ‘Punjab and Haryana’ in stubble burning betrays an inability to rise above short term electoral interests. Your assertion ‘the Governments have failed to provide them economically viable solutions’ gives away your subconscious awareness of your Government’s inaction in this regard,” he said in his letter.

Last week, Kejriwal had sent letters to the chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab seeking appointments to discuss ways to tackle air pollution. Responding to the letter, Khattar said that he is open to meeting “anytime, anywhere”.

Responding to the allegations levelled by Haryana chief minister, Delhi cabinet minister Gopal Rai alleged that the Haryana state government was playing the blame game instead of taking action…” LiveMint, November 14, 2017. Read the full article below on DelhiAir.org.

As Delhi chokes, air pollution at centre of political slugfest

 

Air pollution worsens as India’s political smog thickens: Financial Times (UK)

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By FT Delhi correspondent Amy Kazmin — “I spent this Sunday holed up in a small bedroom with my six-year-old and two large air purifiers running full blast. Every so often, I checked my handheld air quality monitor. It was reassuring: our ambient air was “moderate”, with levels of fine particulates just a touch above what the World Health Organization deems a “safe limit” of exposure for 24 hours.

“Outside, the situation was grim. Six days after Delhi, and much of north India, was enshrouded in a toxic smog — a worsening phenomenon at the onset of every winter — air quality remained hazardous, with levels of dangerous tiny particulates, known as PM2.5, around 28-30 times the recommended safe level.

“Delhi’s air quality is likely to worsen in the days ahead; yet India’s leaders seem callously indifferent. The medical journal the Lancet recently estimated that 2.5m Indians die prematurely each year due to air pollution, compared with 1.8m in China. As New Delhi was engulfed last week, the Indian Medical Association called the smog a “public health emergency”.

“Yet Dr Harsh Vardhan, the environment minister, took issue with that stand, saying it was “too much” to claim air pollution kills. Prime minister Narendra Modi, who carefully cultivates his image as a strong leader, has made no public comment about a blight that prompted all schools in New Delhi, its peripheral towns and Punjab state to close for several days last week.

“But while Indian authorities downplay air pollution being likened to the Great London Smog of 1952, the rest of the world has taken notice. This weekend, United Airlines suspended daily flights between Newark and New Delhi, citing poor air quality and “the safety of our employees”… Financial Times. Read the full pieceon DelhiAir.org

Air pollution worsens as India’s political smog thickens