Analysis of Air Pollution in Delhi

Hello, friends, A public health emergency has been declared in response to the exacerbating air pollution So it is crystal clear that the life-threatening season of air pollution has returned The question that arises here is why does this recur every year? Compared to last year and upon analyzing the data, is our situation getting from bad to worse or is there a perceptible improvement? What are the reasons behind this and what could be the possible solutions for this? Come, let us analyze.

Here, I’m just focussing on Delhi but the truth remains that air pollution is a national issue that covers the entire north Indian region- from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi uptil Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even West Bengal If you look at the data of Central Pollution Control Board as of 20th October, 2019, Varanasi was the country’s most polluted city Call it fortunate for Delhi, or call it unfortunate, our media remains primarily focussed on Delhi Due to which there is a Graded Response Action Plan that is run when the pollution remains above the severe category for 48 hours or more When which schools are shut down, construction activities are stalled and measures like odd-even are taken It is very unfortunate for the other states that no such measures are taken and air pollution is not made an issue because the media does not focus upon them It does not treat it like a national issue There is a government agency called SAFAR that comes under the aegis of Ministry of Earth Sciences The full form of which is System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting This government agency monitors the air quality and conducts a lot of research regarding it According to the data of SAFAR, as on November 1st, 2019, the pollution pervasive in Delhi today, 46% responsibility of that lies upon the stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Between 2016-18, the incidents of stubble burning were on the decline But there was an increase of 40% in 2019 It is difficult to ascertain what the reason behind their increase could be but I would blame the governments of Haryana and Punjab Because they have been ineffective in compensating the farmers in order to give them an incentive to stop stubble burning A question might arise in your mind as to why Stubble burning is done in the first place and why did it not happen 50 years prior to today? The reason behind this is simple: Combined Mechanical Harvesters 50 years ago, when the farmers had to harvest their crops, they did it manually The farmers harvested the crops one by one The mechanical harvesters began getting popular from the 1990s When they harvest the crops, they leave behind the stalk of the crop which is around 2 feet high They do not cut the crops close to the ground They cut it from 2 feet above What this leads to is the presence of the remnants of the stalks inside the soil In order to save their time and money, the farmers, instead of cutting the remaining stalk, set fire to the entire farm so that a new batch of crops could be grown as soon as possible.

After 2009, the stubble burning became even more popular when the Punjab and Haryana governments, in order to conserve water, passed a law under which, they directed (the farmers) to delay the sowing of crops until the monsoon season So if the farmers delay sowing, the harvesting would also have to be delayed So the time between harvesting the last crop and sowing the next crop lessens So then the farmers thought that the simplest way was to set fire to the stubble Because there remains a gap of only a few days between harvesting the last crop and the sowing season of the new crops When the issue of pollution began being raised over the past few years, and the people realised that pollution is caused by stubble burning, then the governments of Punjab and Haryana tried different methods to curtail stubble burning First, they thought of fining the farmers that indulged in stubble burning It was a fine pf Rs 5000 / acre But this proved to be ineffective and a failure because a lot of farmers realized that it would be cheaper to pay the fine as compared to not setting their farms on fire Another solution proposed that instead of burning all the stubble, we could put it into a biomass plant and generate electricity It has been estimated that if we don’t burn all the stubble, then around 2500 Giga Watts of electricity can be produced in one year But even this solution is not being implemented properly and no such incentive is being provided which would help put it into action This has been attempted at some places, but it is not being adopted on a large scale The third solution that has been tested out is happy seeder Happy seeder is a machine that states that there is no need to to cut the remaining stubble nor is there a need to set the farms on fire You let it remain as it is This machine would spread the stubble out and use it like a fertilizer and you can sow the seeds of the next crops over it That is, utilise the remaining stubble as a fertilizer So there are a lot of solutions regarding this but there lacks awareness amongst the people and there are no visible intentions on the part of the government to implement these solutions But if you want to know about these solutions in detail.

So, if we exclude stubble burning and look at other sources of pollution, So there’s a positive news that this has been dropping in Delhi In fact, it has dropped by 25% if you compare the average pollution of the three years in 2012-13-14 as compared to the average pollution of the three years in 2016-17-18 One important criteria of measurement that I’d like to draw your attention to is that when we measure pollution, we can do it by a lot of different methods One- we could look at the hourly rate: that is, what reading did the pollution meter record in one hour Another- we could observe the daily pollution rate We could check the pollution level of every hour and divide it by 24 hours to get an average daily pollution Another one could be observing it Yearly, like I’ve already mentioned We could average out the daily pollution to calculate how much pollution is taking place in an year So the per hour pollution measurement is quite important because it tells us the impact of events like Diwali upon pollution levels Because, if you average out by the other days, then it would not be a correct comparison because no body bursts crackers in the morning on Diwali- they are burst during the evening So the increase per hour would tell us how much of an impact the firecrackers have on pollution levels And this is what I’d like to show you You might already remember the air quality index: below 50, is good air quality upto 100 is moderate air quality upto 200 is unhealthy (air quality) upto 300 is very unhealthy (air quality) And if it reaches 500, then it becomes hazardous air quality That means… if it reaches the level of hazardous in a developed country today, then they’d declare a state of emergency Everything would be shut down (if air quality reaches) at this level.

That is, the air quality was good Most of the websites that measure air pollution, do not give a reading above 999 For them, the index ends there They do not expect pollution beyond 999 anywhere But there is a website called air-quality.com You can see the measurements beyond 999 on this So on the night of Diwali, what was the hourly reading? The hourly reading in Gurgaon was 1785 This reading was above 1000 everywhere in Delhi And on the night of Diwali, this reading reached 2507 in Gaziabad Think about it: people consider 500-600 to be so hazardous and call it a “Gas Chamber” So how terrible would be a rating of 2507?! Some people say that Diwali does have a lot of impact on pollution over the course of a year And that is true If you average it out over the year, then it does not make much of a difference But the pollution that takes place on the night of Diwali, makes the air so poisonous How could someone live in that air?

Now a lot of people would comment asking why I don’t talk about New Year or other festivals? This website would be there for you to see even on New Year Go and observe the level of the reading on the eve of New Year In my opinion, firecrackers should be banned on all festivals. There should be a complete ban on them But I don’t think the conditions are so terrible on the night of New Year First of all, not a lot of people explode crackers on New year And another thing is that by the time Diwali arrives, it is also the stubble burning season So the pollution levels go from bad to worse There isn’t a similar situation on New Year So, have mercy upon yourselves, your relatives and your neighbors Do not explode firecrackers next time. In any festival, in any marriage- nowhere.

So what are other solutions? From the aspect of a consumer, we can’t all go and put an end to stubble burning But what can we do to protect ourselves from pollution? You can use an N95 standard mask if you’re going outdoors during the times of pollution Do not buy a mask lower than the N95 standard because it is not as useful Another thing which you can do is keep indoor plants in your homes Fit Tuber had explained this in his video lucidly There are three types of plants- for example, money plant or snake plant NASA had mentioned these plants in their study NASA had gone to the space station and there they tested out which different types of plants can mitigate what type of pollutants. NASA had conducted the study in the 1980s But unfortunately, the indoor plants do not have that big of an impact, according to later studies the studies that were conducted later in 2009 and 2010 Basically it could not be proved whether indoor plants actually help in mitigating pollution or not but despite that I would suggest you keep plants in your home because what do you have to lose? Third- you create a pressure on the government and the media show that issues like pollution become a priority for them Until the public emphasizes this, they will continue to think like it If most of the public considers Mandir-masjid, Hindu-Muslim to be bigger issues, the politicians would be inclined to do the same If most of the people begin to think that pollution is a bigger issue and that needs to be solved first, then the government too, will spring into action there So you have a huge contribution here Share this video Talk about issues like pollution on the social media so that it spreads awareness about things like these I hope you would have liked this article If you liked it, Thank you.

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