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As winter approaches in India, smoke billows over the northern part of the country, including the capital New Delhi, forcing schools to close and restrict the use of private vehicles. Same story Almost every year.
The condition worsens over several months, so that, in addition to the gray matter pollution, there is always an itchy or burning sensation in the eyes and throat. Unfortunately, experts expect these winter things to be more complicated because air pollution leads to greater vulnerability and lower resistance to the corona virus.
On the first day of 2021, the air quality was “very bad” with a forecast of “severe” in the coming days due to the weather: 346 out of 500 SAFAR, A government agency that oversees it. This code indicates the level of BM2.5 in the air, small particles that can be inhaled into the lungs and cause life-threatening diseases such as cancer and heart problems.
Numerous studies have shown that pollution exposes us to both respiratory infections and its severity. Joint Inquiries published in 2008, 2014 And 2020 They link it with reduced immune defenses and infections of the respiratory tract.
The arrival of the corona virus has raised warnings and in fact, Avinash Kumar Sanchal, climate activist of the NGO explains Greenpeace India, There are studies that emphasize the importance of complying with existing pollution regulations to protect human health during and after a health crisis. “Pollution was reduced during the period of isolation closure (March to May), but unfortunately, as the blockade was lifted, it returns to the pre-Kovit level in Indian cities and we are already seeing this in many parts of the country, laments Kumar.
Air quality begins to deteriorate in late October. Excessive humidity and low wind speeds keep pollutants trapped in the atmosphere for a long time. When the rainy season ends in September, the direction of the wind changes and, as a result, the amount of dust, industrial emissions and gases emitted by vehicles rises sharply.
The Indians have been organizing for years to put pressure on the authorities to change this situation. One of the most active groups is the campaign Help Delhi breathe (Help Delhi Breathe), was created by a team of concerned citizens, organizations and organizations working since 2015 to combat risk. Mega Sada, one of its operators, explains that overcrowding is one of the major problems. In Delhi alone, he says, more than 10 million (more than the other three major cities in the country: Bombay, Chennai and Calcutta combined) contribute an average of 60% to total air pollution throughout the year.
Delhi alone has more than 10 million vehicles (more than the three major cities of the country, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata), which contribute to an average of 60% of total air pollution throughout the year.
The situation is further exacerbated by coal-fired power generation and the burning of waste in some Indian states, such as Punjab and Haryana, which are part of the agricultural region bordering New Delhi. Farmers in these areas have started using mechanized harvesters for paddy harvesting. To some extent, it can cope with rising labor costs. This work method leaves straw and sticks in the field. And its removal will take time.
Not all farmers in the country use these resources. Many of them have no machine because they are small and fringe. In fact, they have been boiling with struggles for years, and these erupted again in September 2020. Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced three laws to reform the country’s agricultural system, removing many of the rules that protect farmers from the unfettered market. Protestants do not trust big business to set prices and fear it will affect their business.
When they harvest rice, there is little space for farmers to plant winter crops such as wheat and rapeseed, and if they do it late, they will get lower yields and it will be cheaper to burn the rest if they can afford it.
According to some estimates, farmers burned About 11 million tons of garbage was dumped in these two states last year. The government is punishing farmers financially, but the alternatives are unpopular because they impose low productivity and costs, which often have to be taken out of pocket.
When they harvest rice, farmers have little chance of cultivating winter crops such as wheat and rapeseed, and if they do it late, they will get lower yields, thus burning the residue cheaper. It is estimated that 11 million tons were burned in 2020 in both states
Only in 2017 did air pollution occur One of the leading causes of death for more than a million people In India, according to the Global Air 2019 report prepared by an independent company Institute of Health Effects Located in Boston (USA). In India, it is the third leading cause of death from all health risks and just above smoking, the research added. In November 2019, the capital exceeded the recommended optimum by almost 19 times, forcing the government to recognize this problem. A public health emergency.
Sada argues that the government is responding, but has not actually taken the necessary aggressive measures. Policies and action plans have been formulated in support of reducing air pollution such as the Delhi Solar Policy, the Graduation Response Action Plan (GRAP) and the National Clean Air Program (NCAP).
Implemented by the government for the first time in 2016 A Transportation Ration Plan Sada explains that about 200 traffic police teams were appointed to enforce the rules as it took half the vehicles off the road on a given day (even on odd days of the month and even odd days) based on license plate numbers, but the project did not do much to reduce the level of pollution.
“Currently it is not implemented. The government usually announces this strange rule every year Deepavali (a Hindu festival that lasts for about five days), From October to December, when air pollution is worst, ”he argues.
Due to public pressure, the current Delhi government has launched a new anti-pollution campaign in which people are encouraged to turn off their vehicles while waiting at traffic lights. Generators of all capacities (diesel, petrol and kerosene) are prohibited and a set of anti-pollution controls is provided that includes preventive measures to prevent air quality from going to emergencies.
The problem with many of the proposed actions is that Delhi is a city and a territory administered by the central government and as SADA puts it “it is often caught between different interests, national, state and local administrators. Service”. People in Delhi and neighboring states are blaming each other without really thinking about solving the problem. As a result, state pollution control boards suffer from funding and staff shortages.
There are solutions, but they require will and effort. According to Kumar Sanchal of Greenpeace, there is no other way to reduce pollution in India than to “control the growth of personal vehicles, transform our cities with public transport networks and further our consumer behavior.”
Unfortunately, even with the arrival of the warmer months, the situation did not improve. Dirt in the air is a year-round problem in Delhi and other nearby areas. Other seasons rarely have rest, and as quality levels improve, they become unhealthy.
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