Most of the Industries have either not installed the ETPs (Effluent Treatment Plants) or do not run them since running an ETP is equally costly as its installation. Therefore, most of them pump their effluents into the ground by reverse boring within their premises stealthily. The heavy metals like chromium, Zinc, Lead etc carried by the effluents get mixed with the underground water which when taken out through Hand Pumps lead to a variety of diseases. If we join the Pollution Control Board to inspect the ETP, it is found running because the information is leaked to the concerned Industry in advance.
Moreover, Pollution Control Boards do not have staff to check the running of ETPs. It is equally true for Industries doing air pollution. Let Civil Society be allowed to carry out surprise checks on the running of ETPs. Whether the Civil Society actually carries out the surprise check on the ground or not, but a sword will be hanging on the Industries to run their ETPs. This suggestion has been strongly approved by Sunita Narain, DG Earth Sciences and Environment.
Induct CNG City Busses in every Cosmo or Metro City:
PM 2.5 in air pollution is created mainly due to vehicular emissions and stubble burning. If we have an adequate number of CNG/Electric City Busses whose frequency is known and whose destination is compatible with last-mile connectivity, people will decrease the use of their personal cars. Consequently the deadly PM 2.5, PM 1 and Benzene will get diminished in the Air. There is no rocket science involved to understand that reliable and punctual Mass Transport is the key to check traffic jams, accidents and road rage resulting in dilution of Air Pollution
Install CCTV Cameras on main Roads:
All Traffic Police Commissioners cry of shortage of staff. If we increase the number of Traffic Constables, there will be a consequent increase in the amount of corruption and inefficiency as well. CCTVs are the best means to bring the errant Drivers under observation. This practise is followed by most of the foreign countries. The cost of providing CCTVs is not much and even if it is so, “Corporate Social Responsibility”- CSR can be roped in to take care of the cost part. Let the main roads and highways passing through any city be equipped with CCTV cameras and let the arterial roads be earmarked for Auto and Tempos.
Enforce MOKSHDA PRANALI at cremation grounds:
Imagine an Iron box of about 7ft by 3 ft by 3 ft, open on two sides and with flaps on the other two sides. Let this box be connected with a chimney. When the dead body is burnt inside this box, two-third of the heat is entrapped in the Chimney and the burning takes place in one-third wood as compared to the open burning of the funeral pyre. This saves two-third of trees. Such arrangements exist on a few Cremation Grounds. They can be replicated at other cremation Grounds and Wood Contractors who oppose this arrangement for obvious reasons should be brought to books.
Observe car-free days in cities:
Let there be a fixed“ car-free day” in every city every month. Let this day be devoted to the maintenance of the CARs and let the people learn to use alternative means of commuting. It is difficult to motivate liberty drunk people to observe a CAR FREE DAY unless an element of authoritative instruction is issued by the local Administration and also a personal example is set by the Administrative officers by not using Cars one day in a month. This step will not only result in the reduction of air pollution but will also create a spiralling awareness amongst the civil society against air pollution.
Create “sanitary landfills” instead of Dumping Grounds:
We should do composting. We should recycle the waste. We should segregate the waste into the bio-degradable and non-biodegradable right at the source. These are all evolutionary practices. We are saying so for the last two decades but the situation remains the same. Therefore, some measures have to be taken immediately. Delhi and Mumbai have burnt their hands by creating dumping grounds which have now become dumping Hills. Because of pressure and temperature, the waste dumps produce METHANE which is inflammable. Hence frequent fire in the waste dumps is becoming unmanageable. Moreover, if dumping waste in the open is taken as a crime for an Individual why the Nagar Nigams should not be taken to tasks since they are dumping waste in the open right since the beginning. Let us create the number of “Sanitary Land Fills”- big ditches in the LMC grounds of Urban Civic Bodies; fill these ditches with waste, cover them with mud on the top and consolidate them with a small roller every day and plant grass and trees thereafter once they are saturated. No land is wasted in this exercise, no rag pickers, no bad smell, no allied disease and no fire… However, it is a daily process though small.
Collection Centers for e-waste:
e-waste rules 2016 lays down that the civic bodies should create e-waste collection centres. The pollution control board is supposed to make a report in this regard to the Central Pollution Control Board on 30th Sep every year. State Governments are supposed to create recycling and dismantle parks for e-waste. Probably, Urban Civic Bodies have not given adequate thought to this menace. We will go for knee jerk reaction when the problem gets compounded. Our today’s problems are the result of a lack of foresight. Let us not repeat it now. Let us start managing our e-waste right from today by creating e-waste collection centres in every town and subsequent actions of sending the e-waste to dismantle and recycle units. In absence of e-waste collection centres, the electronic gadgets are either burnt or hammered indiscreetly in greed of obtaining a small fraction of rich metals like gold or silver used in their electronic circuits which causes unprecedented air pollution.
A research from Mexico City brings out that creepers covered on the façade of a four-story building can absorb 40 Tons of toxic gases in a year, neutralize 15 KG of Particulate matter in Air Pollution and reduce noise pollution by 10 decibels. Can’t we start raising creepers on the Pillars of Fly Overs and Metro Rails followed by Govt Buildings and Private Buildings? It neither requires space, nor budget or amendment in the constitution. A small plant on the metro pillar opposite to the exhaust pipe of a vehicle is much more potent in absorbing particulate matter of the air pollution as compared to a big Neem tree 500 meters away.
Does winter worsen the chances of a heart attack?
Air of uncertainty as pollutions levels spiral upwards in India
Seal or relocate polluting industries:
I give an example from Ghaziabad. A closure notice was issued to an MNC called Continental Carbon India Ltd, by the Pollution Control Board for creating unbearable air pollution after a long and consistent struggle by the RWAs of the City on 17 Aug 2015. It was allowed to operate within 20 days of the closure notice without the MNC making any change in the ETP or increasing the height of the Chimney or any allied improvement whatsoever. Any change in the set-up of this MNC will not bring relief except on paper. The only alternative is to relocate or seal such industries which exist in every city by and large.
Erecting air purifiers at busy terminus:
In an emergency, it may be necessary to erect Air Purifiers, Virtual Chimneys and Mist Fountains at busy terminus; they work on the principle of forcing compressed air to leave at high velocity to effect large dispersion. The mist fountain is used to spray water to effect an immediate settlement of the particulate matter in the air. Let it be done at the bus terminus in every city since the life of an individual is far more important than the cost effect.
Realistic monitoring of particulate matter:
PM 2.5 ( Particulate Matter of size 2.5 micrometre) is so small that it can not be filtered by the nostril hairs. It goes into the lungs and gets deposited there. It has a tendency to attract traces of heavy metals from the air and it is carcinogenic as well. The lung capacity once reduced due to the deposition of PM 2.5, can not be restored. PM 1 is more dangerous. PM 2.5 is generally monitored either in the office of the Pollution Control Board or at places where the Vehicular Traffic is almost nil. This is done by design so that PM 2.5 readings remain at a lower scale. If real monitoring of PM 2.5 is done it will be found very many times more than the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter which in itself is three times more than the safe limit in the USA.
Large land parcels lying vacant in almost every city which are generally used by people either for car driving or dumping waste should be announced available for tree planting. Local RWAs will be more than willing to do plantations and take responsibility for maintaining them since they are the beneficiary themselves.
The aforesaid active measures are over and above the passive measures already being taken by the Government like a ban on stubble burning, ban on diesel vehicles and generators, ban on Furnace Oil, Petroleum Coke, ban on brick kilns, odd-even plying of vehicles and so on. Details and modus operandi on the aforementioned active measures to check air pollution can be discussed and communicated on demand.