Pollution in Delhi: Causes and its Effects on Our Health

Pollution in Delhi: Causes and its Effects on Our Health

By Faheem Usmani Qasmi

Pollution or air pollution is one of the most dangerous problems not only in India but also in the entire world. It refers to the contamination of the atmosphere by harmful chemicals or biological materials. Similarly the toxic level of air pollution in and around Delhi is creating quite a menace. Adding to the severity, the changing weather conditions have locked the pollutants in the air and made the situation worse. Experts have warned people that they may undergo dire consequences if the condition remains for long and discouraged them form stepping outdoors.

But do we ever think what the reasons behind this soaring pollution are? The Delhi government wisely managed to blame the neighboring states responsible for such condition. It claimed that stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and West UP is the major cause for the air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR).

On the contrary to it, environmentalist Sunita Narain – director general of Centre for Science and Environment also a member of the SC-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), claimed that about 65% of pollution in Delhi is due to local sources and it is the main reason why Delhi and surrounding eras are seeing poor or very poor air quality. She also said pollution from stubble burning contributes only about 5-7 per cent to Delhi’s pollution load, but this could go up if there is wind blowing down from the north.

Then another study, conducted by The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), throws some light on the reasons behind pollution in Delhi. According to Teri’s Sumit Sharma, who works on environment and pollution issues, 36% of the pollution has its source in Delhi itself, 34% in NCR while 30% comes across international borders.

However, the studies may be different in figures but what is the common in all studies and figures is that Delhi itself is majorly responsible for such disastrous condition. Let’s turn to the major factors for which Delhi is responsible. There may be more than one reason that are contributing to worsen the air quality of the national capital but some are very important are to be pondered over. Unusual increase in population of the city is deteriorating the environment.

Moreover unplanned development of industries and factories is also the factor which may develop the city but devastating human life. According to the studies, only about 20% of the industrial units are set up in the approved industrial areas whereas the rest of them are in residential and commercial areas.

There are some other causes too such as huge rise in the vehicular population, increase in vehicles, solid waste, liquid waste, industrial and hospital wastes in the city. There has been too much dependence on fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants, improper use of energy in buildings and the excessive use of biomass for cooking and heating, etc.

According to Gardiner Harris (The New York Times, 2015) Delhi is quietly suffering from a dire pediatric respiratory crisis, with a recent study, showing that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air. In addition, research shows that pollution can lower children’s I.Q., hurt their test scores and increase the risks of autism, epilepsy, diabetes and even adult-onset diseases like multiple sclerosis. Poor air quality is a cause of reduce lung capacity, headaches, sore throats, coughs, fatigue, lung cancer, and early death.

The Writer is research excutive at MMERC, Mumbai