Taking radical measures to contain the alarming pollution levels in Delhi is welcome, but the efficient manner of curbing the issue would be to extend focus to the National Capital Region as well, said experts.
The sheer lack of will to check air pollution in satellite cities like Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon is as hazardous as Delhi’s problem, said experts.
To begin with, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has revealed that it began monitoring PM 2.5 levels (particulate matter) in Ghaziabad “only recently”. This was done after an Environment Ministry survey revealed that over 333 industries in the city were found to be violating emission norms. Out of this, over 57 “predominantly polluting” units have been identified for “priority action.”
“Pollution in Ghaziabad is worse than Delhi. Our latest survey has revealed that PM levels in the city are 382 per cubic metre which is not a positive sign at all. An extensive study needs to be conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to determine the contribution of pollutants in NCR cities,” said a senior UPPCB official.
Like Ghaziabad, Gurgaon too is yet to prepare itself for pollution control. Both the cities, still do not have a formal city-bus service, leading to mushrooming of diesel auto-rickshaws which further pollute the air. In Gurgaon, while a third of population walks or cycles, the lack of safe infrastructure makes them shift to motorised modes.
However, Gurgaon is still better in the sense that several NGOs and citizen activists have launched programmes such as “Raahgiri” and “Car Free Day” over the past few months to fight the menace. But, confined to certain parts of the city, these initiatives have failed to make any long-lasting impact on pollution levels.
“Delhi’s fight against air pollution can only succeed if adjoining towns like Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida etc., also start coordinating and taking tangible action,” said Amit Bhatt, head of Transport, EMBARQ – WRI India.
Noida too paints a similar picture of pollution with the real estate sector booming and the numerous industries. Sunil Dahiya, campaigner with Greenpeace India, emphasised on the need for an NCR-wide plan, “We need to understand that air flow does not follow administrative boundary and therefore, problem of Delhi will impact the surrounding towns and vice versa. So industries and power plants in Noida or Faridabad will impact the air quality in Delhi.”