Pollution, Mad Rush for Growth and Delhi

Post Diwali, Delhi had a proposal to impose a 2-day lockdown to deal with the very high level of pollution in the national capital. However, instead of imposing a 2-day lockdown, the government of Delhi ordered all the government offices, schools and colleges to function online from home which is to be lifted on 29th November 2021. The neighbouring city Gurugram had similar experiences and the Government of Haryana had to impose similar restrictions in Gurugram too like Delhi. However, the problem of pollution and high Air Quality Index (AQI) is not a new or once in a year instance but it is now a day to day problem. The average annual Air Quality Index in Delhi always remains above 150 for many years.

For more than a decade, the problem of increased pollution levels during the October-November festive season has become a kind of yearly ritual. In response to this new ritual we have developed a new tradition of bashing farmers for stubble burning and Diwali firecrackers for the problem and the governments retreat back to their respective doldrums and the cosy environment in the winter season! Neither the central government nor the state governments do anything other than pointing fingers in other directions and citizens sip coffees in their respective igloos in front of a bonfire!

Considering the grave nature of the problem even the Supreme Court of India had to ask the Central and Delhi governments to prepare a plan to tackle pollution in Delhi. It must be appreciated at least that there is someone who is concerned about the environment and the increasing pollution in the city. But there remains the question whether any plan to decrease pollution will work without questioning the existing paradigms of growth and development?

It must be noted that we are running a mindless marathon of industrial development in India and around the world which already has no actual plan for sustainable greening and transformation of the Indian economy? Is this a problem that only India is responsible for and could deal with alone? Would efforts by India be enough when the whole globe is warming?

Rajeev Upadhyay

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