Struggling to get things sorted out and in place for the Commonwealth Games which start on October 3, 2010, the Delhi government is contemplating closure of industrial units in order to improve air quality of the city which has improved only slightly after introduction of CNG-powered public transport few years ago.
Taking cue from China’s quite successful endeavor to provide satisfactory air quality the Mayor of New Delhi, Mr. Kanwar Sain has suggested the government that the worst polluters of the city be identified and be asked to stop operations a month prior to the Games.
Although the introduction of CNG powered vehicles and expansion of Metro rail in New Delhi has resulted in noticeable improvement in the air quality, emissions output from industrial units continues to be a major problem. Few years back, the government forced small industrial units out of residential areas which resulted in slight improvement in the air quality however, there are still large industrial clusters present in the city which do not always stick to the emission rules put down by the Central Pollution Control Board.
The CPCB updated the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the first time in 15 years on November 2009. The highlights of the upgrade was that the emissions limits for industrial areas were made stricter to match those for the residential areas. Environment and Forest Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh pointed put that emission limits for some of the pollutants are even stricter than those issued by US’ Environment Protection Agency.
However, the real problem in improving air and water quality is the proper implementation of the environment laws. Corruption and tweaking of emissions data is apparently a common practice in New Delhi. Checking air and water standards of residential and industrial areas of new Delhi is the responsibility of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and there has been at least one incident that the author is aware of where an employee has been offered bribe to show that emission standards were met.
While China’s drive to improve city’s sir quality did bear some fruits and the efforts did not die out with the ending of the Olympics, New Delhi would need to do much more especially on the bureaucratic front in order to sustain the results that this proposed drive might produce. The state machinery needs to be cleaned up inorder to strictly implement the new quality standards otherwise the distinction of having tighter emission standards than the developed world would fall flat on its face.
The Delhi government did great by introducing cleaner public transport systems and now boasts to have the largest CNG-powered bus transport system and only one of the only handful of profit making metro services in the world. But as the city prepares to host the Commonwealth Games the government must consider it as a golden opportunity to improve the way it implements its air and water quality standards. After all, India does have plans to host the Olympic Games in the near future.
Image Credit: Jayesh Bheda (Creative Commons)
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.
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