Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday urged Delhiites to help bring down pollution in the city by giving up vehicle use once in a week and turning off engines of vehicles at red lights. He also noted that pollution caused locally was in safe limit but stubble burning in other states was increasing it.
“I have been tweeting air quality data for past one month. It shows pollution has started increasing because neighbouring states did not help their farmers who are forced to burn paddy straw stubble,” he said. The chief minister said that it is high time that Delhiites took responsibility to bring pollution down.
It is necessary that every individual takes responsibility and contributes to the three measures including ‘Red Light On Vehicle Off’ campaign starting from October 18, to at least reduce pollution generated locally, he said. Experts say keeping vehicle engines off at red lights could save Rs 250 crore and reduce pollution by 13-20 percent, he said.
He also urged people to use public transport or car pool to avoid use of their own vehicle at least once in a week. People should also become eyes and ears of the Delhi government by reporting incidents of pollution like garbage burning so that it could be checked, he added.
The national capital region is heading towards ‘that time of the year’. Pollution is rising, along with people’s attention towards the air quality index (AQI). But despite the exponential increase in air pollutants over the winter months – driven by a range of factors including unfavourable environmental conditions and stubble burning – the issue is a perennial one, and not limited to just Delhi in winters.
It is an issue all-year round, affecting India’s population all the time, in dangerous ways that are lost in the jargon that accompanies discourse around air pollution. Continuous exposure to pollutants shortens our lives by years, increases health problems, including in youngsters, and is also the cause behind some terminal illnesses – such as cancer. However, there is a lack of enough political mention of the issue even ahead of elections in India, and it also fails to come up in people’s top ‘governance issues’.