[Answered] Discuss the issue of air pollution in India. Despite of various efforts why government has failed to control air pollution menace in India?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Mention Air pollution Scenario in India. Various Causes of Air Pollution in India. Why government efforts has failed to control air pollution menace in India?
Conclusion. Way forward.

With every winter there is news of elevated pollution levels in the national capital. The problem of pollution disrupts not only the NCR area but many other prominent urban areas like Allahabad and Ludhiana which figure above Delhi in the pollution ranking across the world.

Air pollution Scenario in India:

  1. According to WHO, of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, the top 14 are Indian cities. These include Kanpur, Faridabad, Varanasi, Delhi, etc.
  2. The Environmental Performance Index (released by World Economic Forum) ranked India 178th out of 180 countries in terms of air quality.
  3. According to Central Pollution Control Board data, 11 most polluted cities in country are from Uttar Pradesh. Ghaziabad is the most polluted city in the country followed by Gurugram.

Causes of Air Pollution in India:

  1. Vehicular pollution: Mainly due to trucks, tempos and other diesel run vehicles. These vehicles negate the impact of cleaner fuel and emission technology.
  2. Combustion and burning: Combustion in power plants and industries using dirty fuels, like pet coke, FO and its variants, coal and biomass release hazardous air pollutants. Garbage burning, both in landfills and other places where there is no collection, processing or disposal.
  3. Agricultural activities: Use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilisers in agricultural activities release ammonia which is a major air pollutant. Crop residue burning-large-scale burning of crop residues from paddy crop in October-November and then wheat in April in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh contributes significantly to the air pollution in the Delhi NCR Region every year. The climatic conditions during winter aggravate the condition.
  4. Cold Weather: During the winter, dust particles and pollutants in the air become unable to move. Due to stagnant winds, these pollutants get locked in the air and results in smog.
  5. Mining Operations: During the process of mining, dust and chemicals are released in the air causing massive air pollution.
  6. High dependence on coal for power: share of coal in power generation in India continue to be around 80%. Power plants with poor technology and efficiency continue to be the major source of pollutants like CO and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur.
  7. Exploitation of resources: Over exploitation of commons like forests, grazing lands and mindless deforestation reduces the natural capacity to absorb pollutants.

Why government efforts has failed to control air pollution menace in India?

  1. High levels of poverty: Dependence on fuelwood and  kerosene for the purpose of lighting and cooking leads to high level of pollutants being released in rural and urban periphery.
  2. Poor governance: The issue of environment and pollution is still to get the policy priority it deserves. While agencies liked CPCB and SPCBs continue to be under-resourced and under-staffed, multiplicity of the state authorities at the ground level leads to poor coordination, lax enforcement of rules and lack of accountability as seen in Delhi. Absence of environmental governance continues to be a major challenge.
  3. Access to technology: India’s industrial landscape continues to be dominated by MSMEs which lack access to cleaner technologies. Agricultural waste burning is also the result of poor access to farm technologies.
  4. Unplanned urbanisation: Haphazard growth of urban areas has led to proliferation of slums and poor public transport has increased the burden of personal vehicles on the road. Landfills used for waste management also releases pollutants in the air. The rapid urbanization of the recent years if left unmanaged will further exacerbate the problem

Pollution and its health burden are inevitable in the near future. Therefore it is necessary to equip public healthcare systems with adequate resources for facing this emerging challenge and shield poor from catastrophic healthcare expenditures. Coherent environmental policies are needed. Since air pollution knows no boundaries, states and centre have to harmonise their strategy to deal with it. Platforms like inter-state council apart from serving this objective can also help resolve pollution related disputes among states.

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