│IF DELHI IS A GAS CHAMBER WHO ARE THE NAZIS ? │
Delhi has been grappling with pollution for the longest time ever it seems. In 1998, after the Supreme Court verdict[i] ordering all buses, 3-wheelers and cabs to convert to CNG, Delhi-ites thought the worst was over.In the years to come, what was once considered sporadic fog or smog, slowly turned into an annual suffocating ritual.
This year the problem of poor air quality is being experienced in a large part of Northern India and not just confined to the National Capital Region. Schools in Delhi and Gurugram were also shut for a week-10 days during November.
But how is possible that all the custodians of our policy makers and enforcers are helpless in tackling this menace despite so much public, media and social media pressure and despite the fact that a drop in air quality has been regularly occurring each winter ? In order for the PM 2.5 and PM 10 pollution be tackled, there appears to be other types of pollution peculiar only to India which must be first cleared.
Unfortunately Delhi also suffers from a polluted political atmosphere as well, as murky as the suffocating smog that has engulfed it. After the Aam Aadmi Party came to power, the Bhartiya Janata Party as well as the Indian National Congress are still nursing the wounds of a humiliating defeat [ii] during the Delhi elections in 2015. The AAP carries a similar feeling of resentment at the loss of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi [iii] [iv]elections.With Multiple authorities and political parties governing various departments within Delhi as well as different parties ruling the adjacent states of Haryana and Punjab surrounding Delhi, there appears to be a vindictiveness amongst the various Chief Ministers and Central Ministers where the administrators appear to choose to allow the condition in Delhi to deteriorate. The worse the conditions, the more political fodder it provides to the parties in opposition.
Coupled with this is the dilemma and reluctance of all political parties to stop farmers from crop burning-currently being blamed as the main causative factor[v] (also read Lancet Journal..[vi]) for the situation in Delhi. Farmers are an important vote-bank. Crop burning [vii] is a cheaper alternative for the farmers to dispose off the harvested paddy to allow for the next plantation of wheat. While technological solutions exist, cost factor as well as knowledge transfer of using machines to tackle this problem would take time. There has been some progress reported from Punjab, where the instances of crop burning are reportedly lesser as compared to last year, but still a long way to go. Till the time the solutions are successfully implemented on the scale required, political parties continue to play the blame game. The dilemma is most apparent with the AAP which is ruling in Delhi but is the major opposition party in neighbouring state of Punjab. So while it supports crop burning in Punjab, the Delhi Government opposes the move.
While it’s not surprising, that the Courts have to often take matters into their own hands, the poor implementation ensures that there is no change in the status quo. The Supreme Court verdict to ban the sale of fire crackers during Diwali, the main Hindu festival everyone looks forward to, was another such example. No Government in India would be willing to implement or enforce
READ THE REST OF THE BLOG HERE