The vehement approach of blaming crackers makes one suspicious whether the intention is to make Delhi air clean or ban a colourful festival and wind up massive business units in Sivakasi
Dr R N Krishna
Pollution is a major cause of concern globally in all major cities. The 21st century in the last few decades has witnessed significant urbanisation mainly due to economic and material comforts.
The problem of Pollution is multi-faceted. However, the media has recently been cracking the whip on crackers-literally. Delhi air is polluted. People are suffering from various respiratory problems. Bursting of crackers is the main cause of pollution. Crackers should be totally banned. This will only save Delhi from the entire crisis it is undergoing—This was the projection in media banking on a report by an NGO which was of course kept under wraps!
A critical analysis and scientific approach needs to be there while ascertaining the facts since this is only a post mortem. Fortunately, we can revive this and this is not a long gone one. The first reason is absolutely mindless greed for money, social irresponsibility and complete ignorance to live in harmony with nature. Urbanisation is just the second. Take Beijing for example. On receiving the pollution index report and data on phenomenal presence of particulate it was contemplated whether the countries would actually be jeopardising their sports persons and expose them to pollution. Beijing took it as a challenge and reduced it to permissible levels in record time. If they can, we too can. The exact text released by the Chinese observers is given below:
The PM2.5 reading was reduced by an average of 73.2 per cent year- on-year, the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau.
“For 15 days, residents have experienced good air quality,” said Zhang Dawei, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center. “It was as good as the annual index in some metropolises in
developed countries, such as Paris, London, Moscow and Singapore.”
Events on September 3 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the clear skies were accommodating. At only 8 micrograms per cubic meter, PM2.5 was at its lowest in two years, the bureau said.
The reduction on PM2.5 was mainly due to the restriction of coal consumption and use of vehicles, said Zhang, though he said sulphur dioxide concentrations were also reduced.
According to Pan Tao, deputy head of Beijing Research Institute of Environmental Protection, the restrictions on the use of vehicles played a bigger role than the industry in reducing major air pollutants.
It is just that we need to do things properly or undo things which are done wrongly. Even if reversion of urbanisation is the solution, it should be done systematic. Sizable undetectable solid particles of light weight cause
various types of allergies, asthma and respiratory problems. Size ranges from 2.5 microns to nano particle levels. It is acknowledged worldwide that apart from industrial pollution, it is the vehicular emissions that pose a
significant threat to human health. Euro 4 norms have to be enforced at the earliest. This is the prime reason. WHO, climate monitors and other air quality analysts have researched extensively and tabled various reports insisting on this. Yes, pollution is a headache, but chopping head is not the solution. Whether it is short or long term, the solution should be permanent and constructive.
A case in point is the recent ban on demolition works related to Metro rail project. It is now feasible to have more scientific ways like concrete softening using chemical injection methods and machine cutting. The work has to
happen methodically with all considered views and scientific approach. Use simple scientific ways of demolition to reduce time and dust spreading.
Delhi has dry air, is metropolitan since time immemorial and mostly crowded. Till date, people travel from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan to work in Delhi. The failing monsoons and stagnant winds also have to be blamed. Post Deepawali, the rain God failed and the winds blew late to clear the dust. Older generation thermal power stations using fossil fuels powering Delhi have been ordered to be closed. Such knee jerk reactions would ultimately result in wastage of such a massive investment and frequent power outages. This is also wrong. Ennore thermal power station in Chennai has an electrostatic
precipitator which absorbs all solid particles. This is the solution. The feeding coal to fuel thermal power stations should be of ‘clean coal’ variety. Very few countries go into these finer details. The energy delivered by the presently procured coal is far less when compared with the ‘clean coal’.
There is no need to panic, based on the western thinking media houses and the championing NGOs’ shallow approach. They are attributing the entire pollution of Delhi to crackers which is a myth. Agreed that there would be a transient increase which may even develop into a low level fog for a day or two after Deepawali. But this is not permanent. One rainfall or wind is enough to clear it off. The vehement approach of blaming crackers makes one suspicious whether the intention is to make Delhi air clean or ban a colourful festival and wind up massive business units in Sivakasi. Is clean air NGO’s intention or is it China’s dubious plan of harming us with our people’s help? Was Delhi air clean before Deepawali? This plan is akin to demanding ban on bull taming festival. Has this brought complete halt on killing of livestock which is advised in our constitution? Hasn’t meat, beef and pork export grown multifold? Has leather industry stopped its production? Has a single government respected the Article 48 of our Constitution?
Yes, Deepawali is supposed to be celebrated with a Lakshmi Puja by lighting lot of oil lamps. Crackers are just some 70 or 100 year development. There has been no hard evidence to show that the bursting crackers for a day or two has caused harm to the environment as projected. Has anyone objected to western people’s bursting of crackers during New Year eve and Independence Day? To make the defence arguments serious, the western countries are importing it from China. The chemicals used in Indian crackers do not contain chemicals like Potassium Chlorate which is abundantly used in Chinese crackers. Indian crackers contain Sodium nitrate which is permitted and far less harmful. In fact Nitrates in micro doses when absorbed by the human body get converted to Nitrites and enzymes thereafter. A study of established literature will reveal this fact.
On the other hand Potassium chlorate gives vibrant colours and explodes with high intensity. Many might not have forgotten the fire accident that happened months before, in Thrissur festival where Potassium Chlorate based crackers were stored. The material is generally volatile and due to its mishandling, combusted, creating a massive accident. Many western countries have proper handling methods of these materials.
We have happily forgotten the elders’ advice of living in harmony with nature and respecting five elements. If crackers are harmful for respiration, TV viewing is harmful to mind and eyes. Mobile phones endanger the brain cells and cause hearing problems and schizophrenia. The sun sets in the evening and asks us to go home. But we continue working by switching on lights. So electricity is harmful. Microwave ovens, air-conditioners, tyres, fossil fuels all are harmful and the list is endless.
Allopathic views are being given to the problems. As a trial basis, the entire vehicles may be banned for a couple of days in few areas for a study. Being the capital, every proven green measure in the book needs to be implemented in Delhi, but on moderate speed. Electric cars, small rooftop windmill clubbed with solar panels for power generation, rechargeable batteries to make every power generating stations self sufficient, battery bikes and cycles have to be promoted. Every single fluorescent tube-light has to be replaced with LED lights. Vehicular traffic can be reduced if government sponsored car pooling apps are encouraged. Work from home, virtual schools may be promoted. CNG fuel is used mainly in the government buses. The ban courts brought on the rule of removing decades old trucks, lorries and cabs has to be lifted and latest pollution free vehicles to be encouraged.
Another major reason for the smog that haunted Delhi this time is attributed to the smoke that emanated from the farmlands in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. They follow the Western methods of burning hay, as mechanised harvesting is done where the hay is cut in small sizes that makes it impossible for packing and sent for fodder to animals. This burning caused the entire smoke cloud which coincided with Deepawali. There are hay collecting and rolling machines available which may be hired to the farmers who indulge in mechanised harvesting. This will ensure fodder for livestock too.
A long-term solution would be ‘green cover’ which has to be extended on a war-footing by planting more peepal trees which give more oxygen. Each roof-top may have plants like tulsi which also emit lot of oxygen and would ultimately reduce the impact of sun effect on roofs. This will in turn reduce the energy consumption in air-conditioners. Corporate bodies may be requested to involve themselves in roof top green cover extension. Every area has got a specific geographical pattern to allow trees of certain nature to grow. Those trees and plants have to be identified and encouraged. We can call a city, ‘Smart city’ only when it is safe and respects nature in all aspects. Not the one with hassle free travelling or net connectivity. It may end up being just a well planned city.
Let the suggestions that are being given from outside be heard and respected. Nothing can happen in a day. Pollution is human made and has to be solved by humans only. If nature decides to put things in place, it will be done in the harshest of methods. Let us make people believe that it is possible for us to make this world livable and respect environment and nature.
(As explained to Anand Venkat)