Meenakshi Verma Ambwani

As world leaders congregate at Sharm-el-Sheikh for COP27, citizens of India’s capital city are coping with a real-time problem — air pollution. Year after year, at the onset of winter, Delhi and adjoining areas are shrouded in a thick blanket of smog leaving the citizens literally breathless.

What usually follows is a hackneyed exchange of barbs between the Centre and State governments on this thorny issue.

On Friday, when Delhi’s air pollution level was in the “severe” category, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal remarked that pollution is not just Delhi’s problem but impacts the entire Northern India region. Admitting that stubble burning in Punjab is the State government’s responsibility, where AAP is in power, he stressed the need for collective efforts. The Centre on Sunday retorted with statistics pointing out that Punjab and Rajasthan are not doing enough to check on stubble burning, while Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have reported a progressive decline in such instances.

According to businessLine’s report, factors such as better demand for paddy residues have enabled farmers in Haryana to better manage costs associated with removal of crop residues. As stubble burning instances vary on a day-to-day basis, experts believe it will be critical to analyse the data at the end of the month to really understand which State has done better or worse.

Vehicles’ role in aggravating Delhi’s air pollution crisis also needs to be looked at. According to an analysis done by the Centre for Science and Environment , vehicular emissions were found to be top polluters in Delhi during the Diwali week (October 21-26).

While the problem of air-pollution is complex and requires a slew of long-term and short-term measures from the authorities, it’s time citizens too take a more active interest in pushing for a solution for this issue.

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