The Delhi government has taken a resolute step in its ongoing fight against the looming threat of air pollution by unveiling the groundbreaking ‘Green War Room’ on October 3, 2023. This innovative initiative is poised to spearhead a 24/7 effort, meticulously monitoring and executing the Winter Action Plan, with a particular focus on tackling the dire air quality concerns that typically grip the national capital during the winter months.
The struggle against air pollution in Delhi has been a protracted one, with a complex interplay of factors contributing to the escalating pollution levels. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a preeminent think tank headquartered in New Delhi, has flagged the issue of localized pollution. This encompasses a wide array of pollution sources, encompassing vehicular emissions, industrial operations, and construction activities. Moreover, the ancient practice of stubble burning by farmers in neighboring states, such as Punjab and Haryana, at the advent of winter further exacerbates Delhi’s air quality woes.
Gopal Rai, Delhi’s Environment Minister, played a pivotal role in inaugurating the ‘anti-pollution war room’ and underscored the indispensable role of public participation in combating air pollution. The war room is intricately linked to the ‘Green Delhi app,’ a mobile application providing citizens with a user-friendly platform to actively contribute to the battle against pollution.
In a landmark development, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal unveiled a comprehensive 15-point Winter Action Plan on September 29, 2023, specifically designed to wrestle control of air pollution in Delhi during the winter season. To add to this multi-pronged strategy, the Delhi government is set to launch an anti-dust campaign on October 5, 2023, further emphasizing its commitment to a cleaner, healthier environment.
Minister Rai, in a press statement, referenced CSE findings that “31 percent of pollution sources emanate within Delhi, with external sources from neighbouring states contributing a staggering 69 percent of the pollution.” This data is grounded in a CSE report from November 2021, which delves into the origins of particulate pollution in Delhi and the ramifications of traffic congestion on local air quality. This insightful report identifies vehicles as the chief contributors to the city’s real-time pollution levels.
While there was a marginal improvement in air quality during the winter of 2022, a recent CSE report underscores that Delhi continues to grapple with the unwanted title of the most polluted city among the five major cities in the national capital region. The advent of large-scale air quality monitoring in Delhi in 2018 marked a significant milestone in addressing this enduring issue.
The supervision of the ‘Green War Room’ has been entrusted to a team of 17 experts, including scientists and engineers, under Minister Rai’s stewardship. The Green Delhi app, a collaborative platform uniting 28 government departments, empowers citizens to report pollution sources. Each grievance will be vigilantly monitored by the war room, underscoring the government’s commitment to transparency and responsiveness. Minister Rai emphasized the inclusive nature of the platform, stating, “All complaints received on the Green Delhi app are jointly overseen by all 28 departments, including those from the central government, the Delhi government, and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), among others. Nodal officers have been appointed in every department to operate this app.”
Early results are promising, with over 70,684 complaints received through the Green Delhi App, a staggering 90 percent of which have already been effectively addressed. A significant proportion of these grievances was directed towards the operations of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), underscoring the critical role of interdepartmental collaboration in addressing pollution-related concerns.
As of October 3, 2023, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) registered at 155, positioning it within the “moderate” range. The AQI scale spans from “good” (0-50) to “satisfactory” (51-100), “poor” (201-300), “very poor” (301-400), and “severe” (401-500). The ‘Green War Room’ and its associated initiatives aspire to propel Delhi’s AQI into healthier ranges, safeguarding the well-being of its inhabitants and the environment they inhabit. The city’s journey towards cleaner air is marked by determination, innovation, and a profound commitment to the welfare of its residents.