Should we make hue and cry out of this? Is it just a city specific problem?
In Indian cities, 75% of air pollution is caused by vehicles-big or small. What that means is that we push 400 million tons of CO2 in the atmosphere every year. That relates to 23 MT of fuel used yearly by cars alone. Which amounts to $25 Billion spent on Diesel or Petrol!
At ZENE, we talk about this all the time, and we think technology can provide the right answer for this problem.
But, is the pollution thing that bad?
Yes, it is as acute as it looks! And it is, actually, good to see that the administration is waking up to it. While you may argue the methods, fact of the day is that desperate times call for desperate measures.
You may understand the gravity of the problem if you have someone dear getting acutely affected by the pollution and environment that Delhi offers. I have friends and family planning to leave Delhi for good to give cleaner breathing space to their kids. Some of us have that choice. Most do not.
It is time that someone raises voice and takes action. This time, it is the administration that has decided to raise the voice. It, probably, is the only decision that I will support Delhi’s administration for. Even though I don’t support how they are trying to handle the situation.
Some measures suggested by the administration are either too frail or authoritative that people will have difficulty giving any level of consent. And you can’t win an argument of common good without involving the ones that are affected the most.
Measures such as stopping registration of newer 2.0L plus vehicles are knee-jerk rather being based on facts (as to what percentage contributes to overall pollution), others such as even-odd system will put unnecessary pressure on public considering that public transport can’t handle the load.
I am not the one who would badger against someone specific; I would rather look at the issue optimistically and offer solutions backed by technology and ones with a longer term view.
Why are we in this situation?
Delhi is a landlocked city, which has limited avenues to flush out pollutants. It is also acutely affected by disproportionate construction in the surrounding regions. While some factors are in our control, some are not. And I don’t see construction activity to be going down a bit in the national capital region.
Some suggest that companies such as Ola, Uber are going to save the day for Delhi. But that is nothing but bring more chaos to the ground than Delhi or even the companies can handle. It is all vanity that will dilute in a few days. People can’t get accustomed to dependencies at that scale. Not in a city that is as big as Delhi.
And, by the way, we have not grown above our worldly possessions. We are not there yet.
For such companies, it will only help spike the short term revenues and media attention, but will do almost nothing to solve the problem.
We have to make a genuine effort to make our environment clean and habitable for all. There are only longer term solutions that will work, but we have to start today. There are technological and behavioural changes required by all of us to lead to a habitable Delhi.
PMs call to expedite Delhi bypass project is a right step to decongest Delhi and many such steps are warranted.
Longer term solution calls for moving to battery powered vehicles for public transport, in addition to strengthening CNG fleets that we already have. All commercial vehicles need to follow the same. And only Delhi can’t make that happen. India has to work hand-in-hand to make it work. Infrastructure and support system need to be built around that vision.
No, it is not a split second decision. It is a bigger call. It is bigger than any individual.
It is for you and me.
But, we all know how Delhi functions. We need some strict measures such as odd-even system for people to understand the gravity of the problem.
In the short term, we must take simple measures for public to understand their driving habits and gauge how their vehicles are performing. That is something that should become their second nature. Can they know if their vehicles are polluting or if their driving habits are efficient? Can there be a simpler system to monitor it for them – regularly and in real-time?
Habits go a long way in helping change the country. Let alone a specific problem.
But we have to start today.