Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Why Delhi's Plan for Air Filters at Traffic Intersections is a Red Herring

Imagine a sci-fi dystopia wherein the world’s pollution has breached all kinds of limits and people are walking around with glass jars and clean-air tanks on their backs; sitting in their offices or homes, where every cubic meter of air is filtered of all harmful pollutants; or even a big bubble covering a cricket stadium where the air is filtered for all to enjoy the game. All these scenarios have one thing in common – the volume of air under consideration is confined and under full control of the user or the operator. There is one inlet for air, through the filter, and the outlet is into the glass jar, the room or the stadium; not to a traffic intersection where the flow of air is not in anybody’s control.

Air pollution in cities is largely a symptom of insufficient urban planning, whether due to waste burning, traffic or industrial emissions. The only way to address it is through looking at the principal sources and finding ways to reduce pollution at their level. It takes planning, inter-agency cooperation, good governance and political will, so proposing solutions that only mitigate it at a small scale (like traffic intersections) are not, and will not be, sustainable. They are ineffective at best, and waste valuable resources that take away from working towards a constructive solution. If the government is at all concerned about reducing air pollution, it needs to plan ahead, well in advance, and not find salves that appear to be proactive on the eve of the pollution (i.e. winter) season. We already know that every winter, starting around Diwali, Delhi implodes with rising pollution affecting most of its 20 million residents. Let’s be prepared for it next time by doing something that actually reduces it at the source.

Read our full commentary @ the Wire

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