Pollution control: Lost in the haze

Delhi needs to take desperate measures to tackle its air quality that’s falling drastically

H. Kishie Singh

India ranks as one of the dirtiest countries in the world. Let’s face it: our social and civic habits leave much to be desired. Now we have another crown to wear. Eleven of the most polluted cities in the world are in North India.

Pollution is not a technical issue to be handled by the government. It is a social issue; personal social concern and action is the answer. It is the responsibility of every single citizen.

If we are to honour our gurus, let us pay attention to the Sanskrit word ‘dharma’. One of the translations is ‘for the benefit for all human beings!

The government has failed to do anything concrete about the NCR’s air! All the foreign missions have complained. They don’t bring their wives and children to Delhi. So in a knuckle-jerk (moving a finger) reaction, the Supreme Court issued a notification where 10-year-old diesel cars and 15-year-old petrol cars may not ply on Delhi roads. This is a blanket ban. No car from anywhere in India may enter Delhi if past the age limit. Delhi Police can confiscate the vehicle. The minimum fine is Rs 15,000.

If a Dilliwalla has a car past the age limit, it may not even be parked on the road outside his house. It will be towed away.

It’s easy to pass an order, but, it is not easy to implement it. Hundreds of police naakas should have been set up. No such thing has happened say taxi drivers, a reliable source. They are not being harassed!

A Pollution Under Control certificate in Chandigarh is valid for six months. It carries a cautionary note: ‘Valid in Delhi for three months only’. Get one in Delhi and it is good for one year. This means, if a car is badly tuned, i.e. polluting, it could run around Delhi spewing out poisonous fumes for the better part of the year.

This could be one of the reasons why the odd-even tamasha did not work. A polluting car was allowed to drive on the streets of Delhi. The number plate was the criteria whereas it should have been a PUC certificate.

The procedure to get a PUC has been streamlined. The reading of your car’s emissions goes to a central database. Your mobile phone number is recorded and you will get a message of the PUC expiry date. Mine read 2020-01-18. That is the American way! Someone forgot to change the software!

This fool proof system was necessitated because a gang in Delhi was printing fake PUC certificates, just to make money! They were killing people.

Yes! Pollution kills!

According to the Lancet, a highly respected magazine commenting on medical matters, 2.5 million Indians died of pollution two years ago. One in six deaths due to pollution worldwide is in India. Breathing kills more people than cigarette smoking.

One sure way of controlling air pollution would have been to make it mandatory for only CNG-, LPG- and electric-fuelled vehicles to be registered in Delhi. There would have been outrage from all sections of society but desperate situations require desperate measures.

If the Internal Combustion Engine is killing people, it has to be stopped. That simple!

Happy Motoring!

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