We have been discussing for some time a deadly phenomenon called smog, the dense and poisonous mix of gases and soot hovering overhead to make us uncomfortable and even very ill at times. Most of us believe that it’s entirely the responsibility of the government to keep our environment clean, to prevent the rolling grey masses that settle over our cities, especially the larger ones. All the TV channels conduct intense debates where experts are very vocal in their condemnation of the governments and governing bodies for not taking appropriate steps to curb this menace. They are right to a large extent, however, we must realize that only the governments are not responsible for the formation of smog, even though the initiative must come from the topmost level, each one of us is equally responsible for this deadly mix of smoke and fog, and has the responsibility to play his/ her part in preventing it.
Government’s contribution: Rules, regulations and implementation
The biggest initiatives must come from the topmost level, the government. Let us try to analyze the role of the state in preventing the black smoke of death.
1. Providing easily accessible, fast public transportation system
We have heard a lot about air pollution caused by automobiles traversing the roads of our cities and their contribution in causing smog. Besides making stringent laws about the quality of these vehicles and enforcing them, it’s the responsibility of the state to provide fast, cheap and easily accessible public transport systems like public buses, metro rail etc. Without an efficient public transport, things like odd-even scheme and people using environment friendly vehicles would be like idle talk only.
2. Strict rules regarding construction activity and public parking
his obviously has two parts. First, construction activity in metros like Delhi and Mumbai cause dust pollution that is a major cause of smog in certain seasons. Rules must make it mandatory for construction sites to use effective shields to prevent dust particles flying into open streets. Secondly, people’s reliance on private vehicles could be greatly reduced if public parking is not provided near main markets, public places and tourist spots etc, or at least by making it more expensive.T
3. Making coal based power stations cleaner
Thermal power plants are known to cause major air pollution through poisonous emissions containing Nitrogen Oxides that combine with Ozone to form smog. Procedural advancements must be implemented to ensure reduced emission of toxic elements from these plants.
4. Ban on burning the rice stubble
Northern Indian states, especially Delhi NCR, often experience heavy smog for days as a result of the smoke coming in from Punjab and Haryana during the months of October and November as the farmers burn the rice stubble after cutting the crop. Winds coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan carry this smoke inland to play havoc with the lives of millions of people. Ironically, these months are considered as most pleasant ones around the year. Government has to ensure that farmers are provided with an alternate solution to get rid of this stubble and are not allowed to burn it.
Making strict rules and regulations and effectively implementing them to prevent activities that may cause formation of smog is the responsibility of the government that should be among its top priorities. However, the citizens must also change certain behavioral patterns to contribute towards the cause. We shall discuss the role of a common man in preventing smog in our next post.
About the author
Sandeep Singh is an architect from IIT Roorkee. He is a prolific writer and a sensitive poet. His professional posts mostly cover the future in Architecture. His stories and poems are chiefly devoted to the inner and outer battles that a disabled person in India faces every day.