Delhi choking, but do not blame stubble burning alone
Commission for Air Quality Management:
- The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) is a statutory body formed under the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, Act 2021.
- The Commission was first formed by an ordinance in October 2020.
- Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.
Delhi and Air Pollution (Concerns):
- Commission for Air Quality Management has not issued any new solutions for reducing air pollution and has given similar orders as the erstwhile EPCA.
- Every year schools are closed, people are advised to to stay indoors, or carpool and work from home, bans on firecrackers are reinforced, construction stopped, trucks and cars not allowed to enter the city, and industries running on fuel shut.
- Stopping people from going about their regular work cannot be considered as good governance.
- Vehicles are another source of pollution in the city and we need to introspect why, despite an expanding fleet of public transport, citizens who primarily use two-wheelers have not moved to using the public transport system.
- Many have cited lack of last-mile connectivity, the problem of crowding in buses and metros, and the inability to reach and navigate narrow lanes that two–wheelers can, as the cause of this lack of enthusiasm towards public transport.
Stubble Burning and Air pollution in Delhi:
- Even though stubble burning is often blamed for causing or exacerbating pollution in Delhi, it remains but one of the reasons.
- The burning of biomass in and around Delhi, if audited properly, would be the same as stubble burning in other States.
- Unfortunately, none of the bodies, be it the municipal body or the government’s Public Works Department, is willing to take responsibility for this or address and find a solution to the problem.
- While stubble burning is a major part of creating pollution, the measures to address it have had little success.
- What is required is a fundamental shift in agricultural patterns, which needs someone to make a bold political call.
- Unless farmers are adequately compensated, the problem is unlikely to go away.
- The ‘Happy Seeder’-based solution has sadly not been a happy experience.
What needs to be done:
- We have to be creative and look beyond the measures that have already been tried and proved they are at best a short-term solution to a recurring, long-term problem.
- Even then a core issue that needs to be addressed is the governance system.
- There needs to be a single entity that takes responsibility for air quality management.