Cosmetic cures for air pollution

The authorities, those in the states and at the Centre, seem reluctant about regulating pollution-causing activities, for fear of upsetting industries and markets.

Published: 12th November 2019 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th November 2019 02:44 AM   |  A+A-

Last week, when the Chennai city corporation was given an award for sustainable development, the city’s residents were waking up to hazy skies and thick smog. This is the reality of India’s fight against pollution. On the one side, authorities are planning measures to reduce carbon and other noxious gas emissions. On the other, polluting industries and technologies continue to pump a cocktail of poisonous gases into the air we breathe.

The authorities, those in the states and at the Centre, seem reluctant about regulating pollution-causing activities, for fear of upsetting industries and markets. In January 2010, the Manali industrial area in Chennai was identified as a ‘critically polluted area’. Almost a decade later, the area last week recorded PM2.5 levels of 342 microgram/cubic metre—almost six times over permissible levels. Though prolonged exposure to fine respirable pollutants can cause severe lung ailments and premature death, precious little has been done in Manali. The most authorities have managed to do in a decade is impose fines on erring industries and short-term moratoria on new plants or expansion activities.

A study by Swiss researchers earlier this year found Indian coal power plants to be the ‘unhealthiest’ in the world. The plants only remove a fraction of pollutants while also using inferior coal, the researchers said, while calling for an urgent upgradation of facilities. Air pollution caused by these factors kills a whopping 1.2 million Indians each year, and is the third-biggest cause of death. Meanwhile, to protect the environment, governments come up with ‘alternatives’ that are not really solutions. Take for instance electric vehicles. Instead of capping the sale of private diesel vehicles or boosting the adoption of public transport, governments are focussing on increasing the sale of e-vehicles. The untold truth is electricity to charge an e-vehicle most often comes from dirty coal.Chennai and Delhi are the just the beginning. Unless the root cause of pollution is addressed, more cities will wake up to hazy skies in the future.

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp