Clean air for longer life

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Oct 2017 10:18:18


 

“We happily inhale toxic and poisonous gases but do nothing to minimise their prevalence or ill-effects. WHO and environmentalists have been crying hoarse for long to mend our ways but today we are perilously close to our own destruction. There is hardly much we can do anymore unless the alarm bells are pressed. We need drastic changes in our urban planning and the way our systems run”, feels Anshuman Bhargava, State Editor of MP Editions of The Hitavada.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


It says that if the PM 2.5 quantity in Delhi’s air meets the WHO annual standard of 10 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3), people can live up to nine years longer and six years longer if it meets the national standard of 40 ug/m3. Products of vehicular and industrial combustion, PM 2.5 are airborne ultrafine particulates, measuring less than 2.5 microns, which can cause irreparable harm to humans by entering the respiratory system and subsequently the bloodstream.


Particulates are the greatest current environmental risk to human health, with the impact on life expectancy in many parts of the world similar to the effects of every man, woman, and child smoking cigarettes for several decades. Delhi has consistently ranked high among the list of most polluted cities in the world. The city is gearing up to tackle pollution that reaches perilous levels during the winter months.


But despite measures being taken for the last several decades, the situation has not improved much, In many aspects and varying areas, it has even worsened. The public transport system in Delhi was changed from conventional fossil fuel-based to CNG a long way back, with a view to reducing emission smoke. But that did not make much of a difference if decadal figures are considered because, in no time, the number of vehicles added on Delhi roads offsets the initial gains.


Side by side the population also spiked and put immense pressure on road transport and other public utilities thereby adversely impacting environment.
Recently the odd-even formula of car usage was launched but how far that is going to make the air quality in line with the WHO recommendations and parameters is doubtful. Laws are liable to be flouted in India.
The bursting of crackers was banned in the NCR region by the Supreme Court as another way to counter the problem of burgeoning pollution but that too improved the situation only by a bit.


The air quality of Indian cities continues to be ‘poor’. The problem of Delhi is not Delhi-specific. It presents the Indian scenario in a microcosm. The air is not much better in Mumbai or Bengaluru or Kolkata either. These cities too are plagued with the same problems— growing number of vehicles on the roads, growing needs of an aspiring and growing population who care little for their environment, lessening a number of trees to soak in the polluted air, a buckling public transport system to cater to people’s unending commuting needs.


There are industries in city peripheries flouting pollution norms, neglectful politicians, and mandarins, poor implementation of the laws, tardy pace of development projects, lack of green buildings and green spaces, general ignorance of the masses, wrong social practices like open burning of garbage and the like.


The major problem is people are themselves unconcerned and unserious about their actions vis-a-vis the environmental damage they wrought. Conspicuous consumption and living habits cause a big dent to corrective measures. We are reluctant to adopt environment-friendly habits.


We happily inhale toxic and poisonous gases but do nothing to minimise their prevalence or ill-effects. WHO and environmentalists have been crying hoarse for long to mend our ways but today we are perilously close to our own destruction. There is hardly much we can do anymore unless the alarm bells are pressed. We need drastic changes in our urban planning and the way our systems run.


Vehicles must be regulated on roads and chopping trees must see a blanket ban. Clean fuel must be mandated and promoted by its greater use in public transport even as the public transport system needs to be better spread and made more efficient. Car-pooling has to be an essential social endowment.


Saving the environment is a collective responsibility of each individual and not something that can be bestowed on us from above. It is a question of life and death and the future of our generations and the country. No development roadmap makes any sense if we cannot cleanse our air and water. Despite all being said and done no strict and one-stop measure have seen the light of day yet.


There have been half-hearted and sporadic efforts here and there, now and then, which have not sustained enough to bear fruits. India’s energy needs are immense and growing exponentially. Unless we know the responsible use of our resources, we will end up living in a dungeon hell of poisonous gases. Our children as young as 5 are getting asthmatic attacks and lung issues due to the obnoxious air they have to breathe.


Is it not our responsibility as parents to leave a better and more livable world to our children? For that, we need to do everything in our power and minimise the generation and spread of toxic gases in the air by our un-environment friendly actions. If we act smart and show social concern, we can to a great extent reduce the prevalence of particulate matters in our air.


We, on an individual level, need to decide and act. We can stop the chopping of trees, we can park our car at home and walk the distance, we can stop burning garbage in the open, we can complain of that pollution auto-rickshaw in the neighbourhood or the smoke-belching school bus that carries our kids every day; we can plant a shady sapling in our courtyard and urge our neighbour to do so.
No one is going to punish us for doing these things— and yet most of us won’t do any of these on a given day because our basic nature is ‘let others do’. We want every gift of nature for ourselves— we extract them to the best of our ability and advantage.


Yet when it comes to giving back, we are misers and nags, unwilling to part with a farthing of our luxuries. The result is, understandably, we have prepared our own cozy graves waiting to receive us.