SMOG AND NEW DELHI
Smog is a combination of exhaust from cars and lorries, dust, smoke from fires and industrial output which is intensified by cold temperatures. Slow wind speed coupled with low temperature and high humidity is the reason behind the formation of smog. This condition does not allow pollutants to spread and thus traps vehicular and industrial pollution making the air very dangerous to breath.
Another reason that aggravates the condition further is farm fire which takes place in neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in late October and early November. The smoke billowing from the paddy stubbles burnt in the farm lands blow in to Delhi and get trapped in the air due to low wind speed creating a situation of smog. Though this practice of burning paddy stubbles is banned, farmers continue to do so as they believe the leftover disease or insects in the stubbles would be eradicated entirely making the soil ready for fresh sowing.
High wind velocity helps to clear smog as it spreads the pollutants to wider areas gradually carrying it away. Another factor that helps in clearing smog is rain. Due to rain, pollutants settle down on the ground clearing up the sky, as the particles tend to stick to the droplets of water while falling down. The reversal of wind pattern from easterly to westerly or north westerly also helps in clearing smog as this leads to a decrease in humidity levels.
The World Health Organisation has designated Delhi as the world’s most polluted city, more so than Beijing, with Particulate Matter 2.5 levels in the atmosphere more than 10 times the recommended safety limit.
These extremely fine particles – less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter – are linked with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease, as they penetrate deep into the lungs and can pass into the bloodstream. Air pollution is responsible for over 600,000 deaths each year across India, with Delhi topping that list. Thirteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India.
Authorities in Delhi have struggled to formulate a coherent strategy to tackle the problem which has been building up over year.
In a bid to curb rising pollution and reduce the choking blanket of smog enveloping the city, the Indian capital of New Delhi Friday kicked off a plan to limit the number of vehicles on the streets. Under the restrictions, announced early in December, private vehicles in the city would be subjected to an “even-odd” formula — based on their license plate numbers — and would only be allowed on the roads on alternate days. For example, if a vehicle’s registration number ends with an odd digit, it will be allowed on the road on January 1, while that ending with an even number can be driven on the second, and so on. This system was implemented in Beijing in 2008 just before the summer Olympics. While the rule was initially said to be temporary, it turned out to be so effective that the government made it permanent.
Odd even formula:
• Private vehicles with odd registration numbers will be allowed on the road on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
• Vehicles with even numbers will run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Nothing has been finalised about Sundays yet.
• This rule will not be applicable on emergency vehicles like PCR vans, fire tenders and ambulances, and on public transports like CNG-driven buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws.
• Good news for bike owners, for the government has decided to exempt two-wheelers from this rule.
• This system, therefore, will be applicable only on privately-owned four wheelers running across Delhi, and on those coming in from other states. And that includes vehicles used by ministers and bureaucrats of all ranks.
• The government has added the public transport will be strengthened from the first of January. This will include increasing the frequency of metro trains across the city.
• Responding to the raging criticism, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said this system will be tested for 15 days and will be scrapped if it does not work for the citizens.
Other rules being implied along side:
Trucks will not be allowed to run across Delhi until 11pm.
All vehicles will have to follow the standards of Euro VI 2017.
The Delhi government has also decided to shut down the Badarpur power plant in southern Delhi, which is one of the coal-based plants of the NTPC.
India’s Supreme Court recently imposed a temporary ban on the sale of large diesel vehicles in Delhi and barred diesel trucks older than 10 years from entering the congested capital, as well as has stopped the burning of rubbish.
Studies in Delhi have shown the smog is causing irreversible damage to the health of millions of children in the city, many of whom walk to school along busy roads at peak times for pollution. Many schools have already restricted outdoors activities.
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