Air pollution has been one of the burning issues effecting the urban and rural people across the world. Urban population has been highly effected by the air pollution due to industrial development, automobiles, and various other factors. Improving air quality is therefore a norm that needs to be addressed in all growing urban areas of the world. This paper reviews the study done by researchers in Mexico and Tahran on improvement of air quality and thereby apply the techniques used in such places to improve the air quality of places like Delhi. It also throws light on issues faced by Delhi in matters related to air quality and how commonwealth games had an impact over air quality of Delhi as a city. Towards the end it also provides certain innovative means of improving air quality so that the lives of millions are not at risk and the development doesn’t come at the expense of environment.
Air pollution has been a thing of the past, as man starting thinking rationally and logically he started solving problems pertaining to each and every field this made man lazy physically and mentally they started solving even minute problems which actually lead to over exploitation of natural resources. It all started with discovery of fire in the prehistoric age, according to 1983 article in the journal science. “Soot” found on the excavations suggest that pollution existed from long. Urban population largely started with the discovery of technique like burning of coal to generate steam which drives various machines or for that matter steam engine was the first discovery.
Coming to the present scenario one of the larger issues facing the world is air pollution, the emissions in the atmosphere includes both primary and secondary pollutants and also the CFC emitted is causing ozone layer depletion resulting in UV rays reaching the surface of earth and causing global warming. The chain of issues related to air pollution is so long that it is really difficult to control such problems by just mere policy formation so ground level implementation is extremely important. This issue is not confined to one place it is a global issue effecting the cities in Mexico, Iran, China, India and various other countries.
Various countries have started addressing this issue with great policies in place now let’s discuss these policies in detail and understand what measures Indian government has taken and why and how it has failed to meet the expectations and how various countries tried solving the flaws in their policy implementation and whether the techniques used by them would help improve air quality in India.
Policies in Mexico and Tehran to improve air quality
To implement or make policies we need to first understand the reasons of air pollution in detail and then we start implementing policies with the degree in which it is effecting the air by putting policies in ordinal manner. This is what the Mexican researchers and government decided to do in first place. They first started listing down the causes and then thought of the biggest cause and made policies making them the preference.
To do this they first understood the topography of the city and then the trends of growing population in the city with development in various factors. After a certain while they narrowed down to a point that the growing population brings a lot of automobiles and industries and the market clearly shifts there and then they made people realise that air pollution is really hazardous thereby making people serious to solve the problem collectively with the sense of belongingness to the nature. With people now involved they started getting some scientific ideas to improve air quality with policies like monitoring the vehicles so that they do not cross the threshold level of pollution. They were successful in reducing emissions to an extent but the challenge faced was financial. With the researchers and scientists getting into the deeper levels of the problem they came up with some the ideas that would really improve air quality and is also a cost effective solution. Some of the measures they suggested was getting strict rules into place when it comes to vehicle inspection, reducing the pollutants by using fuel which has relatively less emissions, by increasing public transport and make people realise the usage of this would help government generate revenue and also reduce emissions.
Now let’s talk about Tehran in terms of air pollution and how it made policies which failed in implementation and again helped it achieve good air quality. The huge problem Tehran faces is the topographical disadvantage because it has mountains in north and east whereas it is flat in the south and west so the air movement is pretty difficult with the pollutants not getting dispersed it gets stagnated or concentrated at one place. Another problem is rapidly growing popularity of the city has made a lot of people to migrate to Tehran which is creating a buzz in the auto industry and revenues of auto industry has surged at the expense of environment.
Tehran resorted to a scientific and systematic study, to improve air quality and detected the problems or causes that is causing the pollution they narrowed down to three major issues they were emission control in automobiles industries and the domestic emissions. With this in mind they prepared a master plan to improve air quality with the sufficient amount of research done to predict how effective the policies are going to be in the future and it would impact Iran’s short and long term goals in development. The categorisation of pollution causing objects was mobile and stationary to reduce the moving object pollution they had strict policies in place and also the improvement of fuel quality dealing with vehicle monitoring system and a threshold value for industrial pollution value. They also worked on traffic management system and training but it had some challenges, one of major being social equity challenge.
The cars used in Tehran were relatively old and engines were causing heavy pollution so the government decided to replace them so that the auto industries also get benefitted but the people belonging to lower group had that only one means of transport this lead to giving of subsidies which caused financial mismanagement and thereby having huge impact.
So the lessons learnt from above policies maybe negative or positive we can apply or discard some measures to improve air quality of Delhi and increase life expectancy of people there.
Delhi and the Pollution Saga
Delhi as described in Mahabharata was a complete forest which was burnt to make a city so the greenery was long lost it doesn’t have a huge topographical disadvantage like Tehran as such the air quality is concerned but it has the disadvantage of Yamuna floods and though not considered very seriously it is prone to major earthquakes now these are some other aspects now let’s speak about air quality in Delhi a recently concluded Diwali saw a huge percentage of pollutants in one of the greatest cities of India. Delhi faces major issues like rapidly growing population in Delhi in such a small area leading to congestion of automobiles. Rapidly growing industries in and around Delhi (NCR) region. These factors are leading to loss of heritage of the capital city of India, the city which was once a great place to travel with amazing monuments in place is now turning into a graveyard with a whole lot of people losing their life due to health hazards.
To indicate the growing rise of pollution in air let’s discuss one of the major events that happened which was the commonwealth games. Keeping in mind the rapidly increasing air pollution government decided to take some measures to control air pollution, some of the measures were halting the traffic flow to reduce automobile emissions and the growth of thermal power station was stopped etc.
The quantity of pollutants was measured and the results were analysed and the conclusions made lead to the effect that air was still polluted and this was something even after a lot of effort was made.
Something that also took place to improve air quality in Delhi was usage of good fuel and CNG vehicles but there was a lack of systematic and scientific study of pollutants and then narrowing down ordinal causes and improve air quality. Therefore we need to get some substantial ideas from Tehran and Mexico.
The policies implemented in Delhi has been beneficial to an extent but the amount of pollution in Delhi needs serious measures. The things that has been in practice already is heavily criticised odd even rule implemented by CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal. The pollution rules have been formed but ground level implementation is lacking. The population in Delhi needs to be controlled by limiting the migration of people to the capital city. The automobile industry should be instructed to make engines which are really efficient and less pollution causing.
The learnings from Tehran and Mexico has lead us to a conclusion that a systematic study has to be done keeping long term and short term development goals of the government and make sure it doesn’t come at the expense of the environment. We also need to research whether the tools we use are effective in long run or no. So firstly we research on the pollution causing objects which are quite a few like
- Growing population density
- Automobile Emissions
- Badarpur Thermal power station
- Usage of wood, cow dung etc. as fuel by 10 percent of the population
- Bhalswa landfill
- Lack of active monitoring of vehicles
- Lack of priority by politicians or the decision makers
Now we narrow down to one area which can improve air quality which in most of cities that we have discussed above is automobile emissions to control automobile emissions government has already put an innovative measure of using CNG in place. The policies that the government has put in place are usage of CNG in public transport system and restricting the usage of other low quality fuels. It has also asked GAIL to increase the production of CNG as a fuel. But compressed natural gas has got its own problem they are it can explode when under pressure and that causes havoc of larger intensity that too in short time that will affect the mentality of people pretty faster than it would affect them in case of pollution.
We can also borrow the idea of training and skill development of people in making them understand the adverse effects of air pollution as we had in Tehran. Getting people together in policy implementation will be huge boost in improving air quality. The sense of collective belonging would get people to work towards the ultimate goal of saving lives of people from hazardous gases in the atmosphere.
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi
- (n.d.). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_Delhi
- Atash, F. (n.d.). Deterioration of Urban environments in developing countries : Mitigating the air pollution crisis in Tehran, Iran.
- Gufran Beig, D. M. (n.d.). Quantifying the effects of air quality control measures during the 2010 Common wealth games at Delhi, India. Elsevier.
- Khaiwal Ravindra, E. W. (n.d.). Assessment of Air Quality After the Implementation of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as Fuel in Public Transport in Delhi, India.
- Molina, M. J. (n.d.). Improving Air Quality In Megacities: Mexico City Case Study.
- Sarath k. Guttikunda, D. M. (2014). Re- Fueling road transport for better air quality in India. Elsevier .