One of the perennial problems in India is pollution. And it is disheartening to hear that Delhi, the national capital of the country, is being tagged as one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. It is the world’s worst city for air pollution. Thus, today, one of the biggest threats to the welfare of the people of Delhi and the city as a whole is pollution.
What are the causes of high pollution levels in Delhi?
Harmful effects of Delhi's air pollution on human health
- Growing population of the city. The pressure and haphazard growth of the population is deteriorating the environment.
- There has been highly haphazard and unplanned development of industries and factories. Studies have revealed that only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.
- There has been a huge rise in the vehicular population, in spite of the metro railways, aggravating traffic congestion and increasing air and noise pollution. It has also been reported that the number of vehicles plying on the roads of Delhi is more than that of the three metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai taken together.
- There have also been an ever-increasing number of diesel vehicles plying on the roads, which are largely responsible for the air pollution.
- There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc.
The vehicular pollutants have damaging effects on both human health and ecology. The human health effects of air pollution
vary in the degree of severity, covering a range of minor effects to serious illness, as well as premature death in certain cases. These pollutants are believed to directly affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. In particular, high levels of sulphur-dioxide and suspended particulate matter are associated with increased mortality, morbidity and impaired pulmonary function
How government can contribute to control Delhi's pollution levels?
- Carbon Monoxide: Affects the cardio vascular system, exacerbating cardiovascular disease symptoms, particularly angina may also particularly affect foetuses, sick, anaemic and young children, affects nervous system impairing physical coordination, vision and judgments, creating nausea and headaches, reducing productivity and increasing personal discomfort.
- Nitrogen Oxides: Increased susceptibility to infections, pulmonary diseases, impairment of lung function and eye, nose and throat irritations.
- Sulphur Dioxide: Affect lung function adversely.
- Benzene: Both toxic and carcinogenic. High occurrence rate of leukaemia (blood cancer) in high exposure areas.
How can we contribute to control Delhi's pollution levels?
- Initiate smog-control programs
- Put in place effective measure to fine polluters, be the commercial or individuals
- Insist on fitting diesel trucks with diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) filters to reduce emissions
- Encourage drivers to reduce engine idling
- Provide alternates for the use of some for domestic fuels
- Most importantly, encourage green travel, such as enhanced public transit and cycling paths
- Greening of municipal fleets (using more efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels)
- Break the automobile addiction! Take public transport, even better, ride a cycle or walk. Imagine if each one of us leaves our car at home just once a week, the reduction in emissions will be substantial.
- Use public transit or join a carpool. Most people feel that carpooling doesn’t work due to change in people's work timings, but it actually makes people work more effectively.
- Combine errands to save gas and reduce exhaust. Parking and walking is easier on the air than sitting with your motor running at drive-through venues like restaurants or banks
- Don’t leave your engine running in traffic! If every Delhi citizen avoids idling for just five minutes every day, we could prevent more than a million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere.
- Drive slowly on unpaved roads and other dirt surfaces so that your vehicle doesn’t kick up dust
- Keep your vehicle engine in good condition with a regular maintenance and an annual emissions check
- Plant more trees at home and surroundings
From complicated to simple, there are various solutions that are available to us. We have to think about our lives and those of our children. We are sprinting into the future without a thought of the impact that we have on our environment. It doesn’t take much to change the world, just the will to do something.