COMBATING DELHI AIR POLLUTION
The long term solution to air pollution will require long term measures tackling all the sources and a strong political will.
TEXT: SAPNA SRIVASTAVA
Pollution does not recognize boundaries, whether its stubble burning of Punjab, brick kilns of Haryana & Rajasthan, power plants in UP or construction sites in Delhi. Enforcement of strict environmental regulations would have to become a reality.
Rethinking agriculture policies: Cheap electricity & free groundwater prompted Punjab farmers to produce rice which requires maximum water, leading to a significant decrease in water table. As India, already produces surplus rice, the farmers should be weaned towards farming cornone of the most water-efficient crops which can also be used for producing biofuel.
Implementing sensible laws: Instead, government has put in place a misguided water conservation law that require farmers to transplant rice later in the year, which in turn delays harvests and concentrates agricultural burnings of crop residues in November, the winter month when breezes stagnate, leading to increased air pollution.
Generate Cleaner Emissions: Burning agricultural residue along with coal at power plants will provide double benefit of avoiding pollution from crop waste burning and making coal burning cleaner as it removes mercury and sulphur. Also machine like Happy Seeder can help farmers convert agricultural residue to fertilizer.
Control Dust: Construction companies do not suppress dust as required. Using strategies such as setting up barriers, covering debris, or sprinkling building materials with water apart from planting trees around the site can go a long way in reducing dust particulates in air.
Change land use regulations: The existing low Floor Space Index (FSI) of the city means more housing in the suburbs and longer commutes to workplace in the CBD. Increasing the FSI will reduce private vehicles on the road. E.g. Singapore has an FSI of 25 and its air is way less polluted than Delhi. Allowing mixed use development of residential plots will also reduce vehicular traffic as seen in Pune that has housing and commercial mixed-land use resulting in lesser traffic.
Installing City Air purifiers: Drawing inspiration from global efforts, installing air purification tower can be the immediate step followed by promoting roof gardens and vertical gardens on buildings roofs and walls that become natural air purifiers and also reduce urban heat island effect.