World Environment Day: What it takes to be the solution
“The future depends on what you do today” – Mahatma Gandhi
When we think air pollution in India, we think Delhi, but let’s take a reality check. Out of the 15 most air polluted cities in the world, 14 of them are in India.
Urban expansion increases at an alarming rate as people continue to migrate to smog-shrouded cities. More trees are cut down, the usage of vehicles increases and more amounts of garbage are disposed, among other effects.
Thus, it’s time we take the onus to become the advocates of environmental change in order to curb the steadily increasing toxicity in the air.
Let’s take a look at how different states have pre-acted at mitigating the situation so far.
In order to prevent traffic jams in Bangalore and other cities, Karnataka is looking at infrastructure improvement while emphasising on mass transport systems.
The Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board has ensured that pollution levels are kept under check by increasing green cover, monitoring carbon emissions and particulate matter, while also opting for alternate energy sources. The Visakhapatnam Port Trust and other major industrial units like HPCL are spending over INR 1,700 crore to reduce pollution in their respective units.
Parts of Telangana, especially Hyderabad, have taken strict measures in keeping a check on fuel adulteration along with looking at solutions to facilitate the free flow of traffic by widening roads and synchronising traffic signals.
In spite of Kochi and Kozhikode facing pollution issues, the Kerala Pollution Control Board has managed to keep contamination within the limits of PM 10 and PM 2.5 with the help of 5 real time monitoring stations across Kerala and will continue to establish one monitor in every district.
Not only do a large number of auto rickshaws in Delhi run on compressed natural gas but the city has also implemented 30 air quality monitoring stations currently that are providing real-time air updates for citizens on the quality of air in their localities.
Other recent measures have included stricter vehicle emission norms, better control of dust pollution and higher penalties for burning garbage.
In accordance with Delhi’s environmental scheme, Mumbai has also implemented 11 air quality monitoring stations with real time updates on the quality of air in various localities. The Mumbai roads are also now frequented by new red and silver eco-friendly buses that look into curbing vehicular emissions.
Furthermore, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board is in the process of developing a smartphone application to provide real-time air quality updates for citizens to truly understand the effects of their activities.
What’s in the Pipeline?
In order to take conversations for environmental sustainability further, the government has released a National Clean Air Programme to look at further mitigating air pollution in 100 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Varanasi etc. The environment ministry in coordination with the Central government and its state counterparts will be taking the following steps:
- Expanding air quality monitoring networks.
- Certifying monitoring institutions.
- Setting up air quality forecasting systems.
- Setting up air information systems.
- Planting 1,000 crore saplings over a period of 10 years, from 2021 to 2030.
In addition to the above, 70 teams have been deployed to regulate optimum air quality management pertaining to vehicular pollution, traffic congestion, industrial emissions and activities related to construction and demolition.
How can we help?
Change begins by pre-acting at a personal level first. For instance, did you know the following steps can help curb air pollution in our homes?
- Avoid smoking indoors – Smoking indoors does not allow the smoke to escape, causing people to inhale the same air repeatedly, causing harm to your lungs and nostrils.
- Ensure your home has good ventilation – Through proper ventilation, allergens such as dust, pollen, and other irritants can escape better without individuals having to inhale it repeatedly.
- Give up plastic habits - By-products of plastic from the erosion of synthetic carpets, synthetic clothing or cosmetics are often found in the home environment and can be immensely harmful for your health.
- Get an air purifier – Air purifiers are the best way to clear the impure air and by-products of plastic from your homes.
- Plant more trees – Planting indoors and outdoors not only cleans the air but also provides fresh oxygen for your lungs.
- Maintain your vehicle – Check up on your vehicle regularly to ensures that it is not consuming extra fuel.
The need for the awareness to pre-act is warranted and having a participative society that collaborates with the government can only expedite the process of moving towards a better future.
So, let’s make our every action count!
Alarm Bajne Se Pehle Jaago Re
World Health Organisation, Hindustan Times, Business Today, Economic Times, The Better India
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