Poison in Air: Wake Up India Wake UP

Columns, Opinion 1 Comment on Poison in Air: Wake Up India Wake UP 52

By RK Sinha

A resurgent India is what we are working for to make the nation happy and prosperous. But this is not possible if the living conditions are hostile. What we need today is a social revolution to make the people of the country not to cut the branch of a tree you sit on from the wrong end like Kalidas did before he attained wisdom.

We are doing the same thing at the moment as large parts of the country are engulfed by poisonous air that we breathe. A river of ‘smoke’ is seen flowing from the western region (Punjab & Haryana) towards the north; satellite photograph taken by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) of the United States of America shows the stream white cover in the sky.

Come autumn as winter sets in, Delhi and its satellite towns are covered with haze of smoke and dust that are hazardous for humans. Children and Elders are most vulnerable. Burning stubbles in farms violates law. There are laws that entails to imposition of penalties on farmers who burn stubbles in their field after the harvest of the crops.

Law alone can’t stop this ‘offence’ against nature and against human beings. The law of the land provides punishment for crime, yet people commit crime.

Stubble burning is a burning issue. To stop it the simple way is to go for mechanized harvesting. Farmers say that the cost of the implement plus tractor is high. For most of the year the tractors and implements lie idle since there are two major crops in a year, khariff and rabi. Mechanised harvesting is uneconomical for farmers with less than ten acres of holding who can’t go for mechanized farming.

Second alternative is to plough back the stubbles instead of burning. But farmers take easy way of removing stubbles that is by burning it. There is urgent need to educate our farmers that the smoke that comes out of burning process is hazardous for health for them as well. Since the burning process is slow the volume of smoke is very high. Village panchayats can take lead role in educating our farmers not to burn stubble in field.

Ask any individual or an expert on the subject he will drop series of dos and don’ts to check the menace of air pollution. Some are wise and some are impractical.

Smoke from stubble burning is not the only factor contributing to dangerous level of air pollution in urban areas. Vehicular emission is also a major factor in worsening the air quality in cities like Delhi. Emissions of toxic gas like oxides of carbon, sulfur and nitrogen are poison in the air.

It is a known fact that diesel vehicles emit larger quantum of toxic gas compared to petrol driven vehicles. But the government can’t ban manufacture of diesel vehicles including cars for purely economic reason. The decision to ban diesel vehicles that are ten year old and petrol cars that are fifteen year old may sound good to the environmentalists but is bad for a developing economy like India.
Instead the emphasis should be on stricter norms for vehicular emissions.

Some millions of liters of petrol and diesel burn as waste every hour in cities small and big, costing thousands of crores of rupees because of poor roads and poor traffic. Jams at crossings that should take 30 seconds to three minutes are longer due to faulty signals. During peak hours in Delhi and Mumbai it is bumper to bumper drive in first and second gear. Sometime it takes more than 10 to 15 minutes to cover a distance of one kilometer. It has been widely publicized to switch off ignition in case wait for green signal is for more than two minutes.

Seldom people do it at crossings. Drivers don’t care for fuel going waste and many self driven car owners do the same as they don’t mind spending few extra rupees on fuel. I would say even educated and elite are culpable of adding pollutants in the air.

Why farmers, right under the nose of Lutyen’s Delhi heaps of leaves are burnt which is an offence as per a ruling of the Supreme Court of India.
Bhurelal, a retired officer who is Chairman of ‘Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, a Supreme Court appointed body has come out with unique solution to reduce pollution level in Delhi. He proposes to ban all private vehicles from plying on Delhi roads.

“Let us hope Delhi air pollution situation doesn’t deteriorate or else will have to stop plying of private vehicles, only public transport will be used,” Bhure Lal added. Detailed provisions of the rule, if applied, have not been made known yet:”, Bhurelal has said.

You can imagine the the situation in the national capital. It will be undeclared curfew and stampede on roads. Bhurelal’s piece of suggestion is like throwing the baby with bath tub or if you have a headache, severe your head. Be kind to us Mr Lal.

(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)

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