As India’s Capital gets ready for another winter, the government has already drawn out its strategy to tackle air pollution. Delhi, in the middle of the festive season, is also preparing itself for the arrival of smog, an increase in air pollution and also the annual ‘dangerous’ reading on the Air Quality Index (AQI).
In the wake of a change in season and air quality, the Delhi government has announced the creation of a ‘Green War Room’ amongst a string of other measures. The Green War Room will work on a detailed plan to cut smog and dust as well as clean up some of the world’s dirtiest air ahead of the winter season. Delhi is working to eliminate the burning of farm stubble — one of the biggest contributors to air pollution—across 5,000 acres of farmland surrounding it, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a statement.
The Green War Room is being used to monitor measures being taken this winter to mitigate air pollution levels, and track the AQI and instances of stubble burning. The war room, which kickstarted on Monday, will function round-the-clock and will also monitor data and complaints received via the Green Delhi App, where people can report instances of activities causing air pollution.
The war room will be managed by a 12-member team.
Winter is coming
These announcements by the government come ahead of the winter season when air quality in India’s capital and most of the northern region routinely deteriorates drastically. During the worst stretches, the region’s air pollution can reach multiple times the global safety threshold.
These measures also come ahead of India taking over the presidency of G-20 from December 1 and are expected to bring in large numbers of foreign government officials to the capital city.
Some key measures in the government’s plan include setting up anti-smog guns, water sprinklers and road sweeping machines to reduce dust and include mandatory monitoring of all construction sites larger than 500 square metres (597.99 square yards). The government had already announced a ban on firecrackers earlier this month.
The CM has also appealed to Delhi’s neighbouring states to restrict the use of diesel generators and polluting feedstock in industries.
Targets and challenges
The Centre has also put in place a National Clean Air Programme to cut particulate pollution in Delhi by as much as 30 percent by 2024 from 2017 levels. The Delhi government, on its part, has decided to spend $600 million over three years to electrify most of its public transport to improve air quality.
A recent report had pointed out how across northern India, the bad air takes off eight and a half years from the lives of about 480 million people.