Lockdown like instructions have been reimposed in Delhi, not due to covid this time, but due to air pollution. Since the time was of Diwali, crackers were blamed for this menace. Diwali was over on 4th November, but the poor quality of air remains as such with an AQI of 350 and above in and around Delhi.
Now Delhi government has indefinitely suspended in-person classes in schools, barred the entry of trucks, banned construction activities, and advised private offices to work from home.
Everybody is interpreting the phenomenon of air pollution from their own angle of convenience. Traffic, construction, crackers, gas guzzlers and what not, but only a few talk of stubble burning as it is not politically-correct.
The question is what makes Delhi distinct for air pollution every year during this period. Whether it’s vehicular traffic, construction activities, offices and schools, these are there in almost all big cities. The only distinct thing to my mind is the burning of stubbles by farmers, adding smoke pollution.
The famous economist, Mr Swaminathan Aiyar in a recent article, has given the background. Free electricity has encouraged over-pumping and the growing of water intensive crops, destroying aquifers. So the rice-wheat rotation has encouraged the burning of paddy stubbles by farmers, as it’s a quick and inexpensive way to prepare the soil bed for the next crop.
This situation prevails in the neighbouring states of Delhi. Nowhere else. Those supporting farmers say that stubble burning contributes only 4 to 5% of total pollution, but those against say it’s around 30%.
Whatever may be the percentage, the issue should have been addressed to dispose of stubbles scientifically in an environment friendly way. But lack of willpower can be easily seen. No government wants to go into the genesis and permanent solution.
Similarly, when the second wave of covid hit India, the media all over blamed it on electioneering, kumbh fair and Holi festival, but I fail to understand what is happening in most of the European countries, even in US now, and who are to be blamed for fresh spurts in covid cases.
Protests for what? To endanger own safety and life? When a fine is imposed for not wearing helmet or seat belt while driving, similar protests are staged.
Such stray thoughts defy logic, but there is no dearth of people who find some logic behind such insanities too, and in a democracy, we have to respect their views too.