Delhi NCR has been the centre of action and news after the Supreme Court ordered to remove its stay on banning cracker sales in the National capital region. The court’s order came just 9 days ahead of the festival of lights Deepawali that is celebrated in all fervour in India. The Supreme Court has in November last year banned the sale of crackers in NCR after a petition filed by three infants of 6-14 months with the help of their parents and lawyer. The infants had cited the pollution caused and the loud noises associated with the cracker bursting as a problem that would affect their lung growth.
However here is a study on why the Supreme Court judgement to ban crackers to curb pollution may not solve the problem persistent in Delhi for years now.
1. The firecrackers are burnt for a span of over a week in a year. The pollution in NCR in other 53 weeks is no better and it remains at its peak due to road-dust, vehicular pollution and burning of biomass.
2. According to a survey done by The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), most of the NCR came from Industries outside the NCT and most from areas like Noida, Ghaziabad, and Sohna, and surrounding states of UP and Haryana.
3. Acute shortage of electricity is the next important factor influencing the pollution in Delhi, as Shopping malls, hospitals, apartments, schools and other commercial buildings have resorted to the use of Diesel generators and this is a prevalent problem in the city.
4. Vehicular pollution in Delhi grew from 64% to 72% between 1990 and 2000. In winter, vehicles contribute 25% to PM2.5 (Particulate matter 2.5) emissions. At places, it is above 35%. Diesel vehicles contribute significantly to PM10 and PM2.5. Delhi has over 8.9 million registered vehicles. In addition, 570,000 personal and passenger vehicles enter Delhi every day. According to a report from IIT Kanpur, 46% of the vehicular pollution is created by the trucks in the city. Two wheelers contribute up to 33% of the PM 2.5 and PM 10 emissions, while 4 wheelers add another 10% of the list. Buses and other commercial vehicles help add another 9% to the air pollution in the city. Three wheelers and other vehicles constitute to the rest of the pollution
5. Agricultural stubble running into millions of tonnes is burnt by farmers in northern India every October, before the onset of winter. An estimated 35 million tonnes are set afire in Punjab and Haryana alone to make room for the winter crop. This is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the NCR
6. The other important reason for pollution in Delhi is the landfills. Delhi has 4 locations where the garbage from the city is dumped. The four dumping locations in Delhi are Ghaziapur, Bhalswa Okhla and Narela- Bawana. Delhi produces 10,000 metric tonnes of garbage every day. Of this, 2,500 tonnes from east Delhi used to go to Ghazipur landfill, a part of the 4,000 tonnes of garbage from north Delhi to the Bhalswa landfill, and the 3,500 tonnes of garbage from south Delhi to Okhla. The height of Garbage piled in Ghazipur landfill had reached to 40 meters almost half the height of Qutub Minar, before it killed two people when the garbage pile fell over them. Okhla is the only site which has a waste to energy conversion centre while centres at other dumping sites are still under construction.
These are some of the many problems that have been haunting the NCR and are responsible for the pollution in the city. So instead of just banning crackers during Deepawali and assuming that the air pollution in the city ends by that is foolishness. Here are a few things that can be tried and implemented to see hopes of reducing Delhi’s air pollution.
1. Getting new clean and green vehicles. ( Emission-free is the way to go)
2. There needs to be a drastic improvement and scaling up of the way in which public transport operates.
3. Restrict the number of cars, tax cars annually and higher than that of Buses.
4. Stop pollutants from industries and power plants.
5. Stop crop burning.
6. Curb road dust, and ban diesel generators. (Provide electricity!)
7. Instigate measures for safer walking and use of bicycles on roads
These are probably the best ways to curb pollution in Delhi than just forcing bans on religious practices and thinking that a week of silent and cracker less Deepawali can completely stop pollution in Delhi. Hopefully, Supreme Court tries to figure out ways to direct the Governments to implement these measures in the same way it expects them to ban firecracker sales in the city.