Tribune News Service
New Delhi June 21
Discussing the increasing air pollution in the Capital, experts viewed that lack of public awareness and concern besides missing political will has led to Delhi acquiring the dubious distinction of being among the highest polluted cities in the world.
Many among them blame it on poor air monitoring system while adding that more than 70 per cent of it is coming from the West side of Delhi, including Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
"Worldwide increased aggressive public concern over air pollution has forced ruling political parties to change agenda leading to introduction and implementation of strict environment laws. In Delhi as well as other parts of the country, the public concern is missing due to lack of awareness about air pollution. It is only in the last few months that some global reports have made the issue come alive. Most of the pollution in Delhi is dust which is due to its unplanned status, Metro construction and industrial areas within the city," said Prof. J. M. Dave, an air quality expert while speaking at the daylong meet on ''Delhi Air Quality".
"Worldwide Industrial areas are far away from the main city, but entire Delhi has been a commercial hub. Moreover, roads are unplanned, with very few complete flyovers and are without cloverleaf," he said. According to Dr B Sengupta, member secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, the major cause of pollution, especially near the Chief Minister's residence is Benzene released by petrol pumps and India is the only country which does not have vapor recovery system on petrol pumps.
"The most extreme example is New Delhi, which has the world's highest annual average concentration of small airborne particles -higher than major Chinese cities. The industries in Delhi are not the main culprits. The density of vehicles in the city is much higher than in other cities - the number of vehicles here is almost equal to the other top three metros combined. Also, a large number of people transit through Delhi from other states in cars and trucks," he added.
Prof. Mukesh Sharma of IIT Kanpur and architect of Air Quality Index recently launched by the government of India stressed the need to improve mass transit, so much so that people prefer it to their own vehicles.
Today the Metro is very crowded, and bus service is not frequent enough. Multi-sectoral action is required, he stated while noting that various ministries are supposed to play a role in tackling this problem.
Pointing out that conflicting opinions have been expressed by several groups, including many NGOs, WHO, US embassy on status of air quality, the Indian Association for Air Pollution Control (IAAPC) Delhi Chapter secretary Shyam Gupta said even as the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Delhi Government, CPCB, IIT, etc have expressed concerns and given their views, there is no concrete plan to improve the air quality.
The brainstorming session organised by the IAAPC's Delhi chapter witnessed participation of about 150 air pollution experts from various parts of the country.
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