The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) on Monday called for declaring a ‘red alert’ in the national capital and immediate implementation of the odd-even scheme to mitigate the toxic smog shrouding the city for the past few days. It added that the road rationing scheme alone is not enough to tackle the air pollution, and the government should adopt a multi-pronged strategy and formulate long term measures for the purpose.
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“Delhi should be declared on pollution red alert. Also, in such a situation, the odd-even rationing scheme will definitely bring down the number of vehicles on the road and indirectly bring down vehicular pollution. But it will not work in the long term,” Dr Rakesh Kumar Gupta, President of DMA, said. He said depending on the rise in the level of pollutants in the air, the government should formulate protocols about the steps to be initiated.
“In developed countries, if the level of pollution rises above a certain level, then necessary advisory is issued and immediate measures are taken to control the situation. They do not wait for the situation to become worse to get into action,” Gupta said. He suggested that rather than using woods for cremation, people should take to CNG or electric cremation, as he claimed that “1.5 lakh kg wood is burnt in Delhi daily which causes tremendous pollution.”
Dr Ashwani Goyal, state secretary of DMA, expressed concern over the lack of implementation of environmental laws and stressed the need for imposing heavy penalties for violating environment laws.
“The violators of traffic laws are big source of traffic jams which in turn causes air pollution. Heavy penalties should be imposed on such violators. Also, garbage and crop burning should be banned and unregulated construction sites should be closed,” Goyal said.
On Sunday, the city’s air quality plunged to the season’s worst, with even the 24-hour-average threatening to go past the maximum limit, while today it improved marginally as wind speed picked up dispersing the pollutants and the thick cover of hazardous haze that shrouded the city for nearly a week. The real-time readings of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 breached the safe standards by over 17 times at many places.
Delhi is facing its worst smog in the last 17 years, prompting the High Court to observe that it was akin to “living in a gas chamber”. According to WHO, air pollution is killing nearly eight lakh people annually in the South East Asian Region with India alone accounting for over 75 per cent of the casualties caused by cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer.