[stextbox id=”alert”]’Experts’ have gone wild; governments and courts must listen to state-run institutions of science for a complete, lasting solution to the health hazard[/stextbox]
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the comprehensive coverage of Delhi’s pollution in सिर्फ़ News has shown, no party to the problem is emerging out of the scene smelling of roses — be it the Delhi government, the administrations of its adjoining States, the National Green Tribunal, the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, the three municipal corporations of the capital or the Centre for Science and Environment. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is taking a slew of measures rather desperately, beginning today, these steps should have been taken well in the past. After dengue and chikungunya, this is yet another instance where all authorities concerned have been caught napping. The NGT is oscillating wildly between proposals that make eminent sense and activism that is questionable — ranging from directives to neighbouring States to check crop burning to finding a fault in an Indian tradition that is thousands of years old, namely cremation. The CSE, an NGO that is reported by the media in a manner as if it were an authority on the subject, has once again proposed a curb on vehicular pollution, which can only be used by the AAP government as an excuse to renew the hare-brained odd-even rationing of cars while sparing the more numerous, more polluting motorcycles and Delhi-bound trucks of pre-2005 models. The selective approach to the situation by the NGT and CSE only add to the noise of activism based on half-baked knowledge of science.
In the meantime, all governments including the Centre are treating a class of holy cows, namely farmers, with kid-gloves. If burning the crop stubble is the cheapest of options for the peasants, neither older and cleaner alternatives are being promoted, nor are the creators of this pollution being warned of legal consequences. It is surprising why, before a meeting of Environment Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh is convened, Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave should issue all the four a clean chit, saying that the smoke billowing from the crops burning in those States is polluting Delhi by no more than 20%, which is questionable. It is tragically funny that when any entity that pollutes Delhi is targeted, it excuses itself by floating its percentage contribution to the crime. Then, polluters of a greater degree (like motorcyclists) and moneyed sources of pollution (like car makers rather than car users) are let off the hook. Finally, as in the case of seasonal epidemics, no authority consults authoritative institutions of science for a thorough solution to the problem, let alone pre-empt the chances of recurrence of smog and dangerous levels of suspended particulate matter before the onset of winter. But governments’ enlightenment from recognised science bodies is the sole, feasible and perpetual answer to this hazard to our lives. Make an ICAR or an IARI counsel the farmers; hear out an IIT to know what sources pollute the most and take action accordingly; don’t seek out self-styled experts who lead governments to inadequate and erroneous resolutions of the issue.
Featured image from The Fiancial Express; social media thumbnail image by Bir Bahadur of DNA