Article: Delhi's polluted air, by the people who live there

I read this article from the Guardian today - distressing, personal accounts of the air pollution in Delhi, the environmental and health justice impacts, and the challenges of trying to improve the situation. How is civil society working on this challenge?

“At one level, I’m confident that something will happen now, because the public outrage over this rising pollution is at such a pitch that a government cannot ignore it altogether,” says Arindam Sen Gupta , executive editor of the Times of India. “But how effective this plan will be is a matter of speculation. … I don’t think there’s a cohesive vision – we work in fits and starts. When the problem becomes acute, we wake up to it and then emergency measures are taken. It’s usually pressure from below which works in India, from the people.”


The judiciary in India has always taken an active role when it comes to environmental issues. Indeed it is because of an order passed by the Supreme Court on a public interest litigation case that commercial transport vehicles switched to CNG in Delhi. Also recently the Delhi High Court took suo moto action regarding the air pollution in Delhi.

There has also considerable demand from the civil society for actions to be taken by the government. This is an open letter which a citizen had written to the Environment Minister regarding the worsening air quality in Delhi.

The general sentiment is to tackle the air pollution as summed up by this article .


An Odd-even rule! @marenabrinkhurst, here is a recent update on the Delhi air pollution scenario. The Delhi government recently made a rule wherein cars with odd and even license plates are to ply on alternate days. This is to be tried in the first two weeks of January 2016 as an attempt to curb the city’s air pollution

It remains to be seen how effectively it will be implemented in Delhi, but such bans have been implemented in other cities across the world.

First implemented in Stockholm in 1996, alternate day or once-aweek car bans are a norm in some European cities, although a 2014 analysis showed these had mixed results.

Cities that have implemented such bans temporarily or permanently include Beijing, Paris, Mexico, Bogota and Stockholm. Paris, Mexico and suburban Beijing have tried banning cars based on numbers, while other cities have chosen to focus on the fuel used (petrol or diesel) and timing (peak and non-peak hours)

Read more on this:

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Another measure that was taken to tackle the air pollution in Delhi was introducing a Green Tax. This was imposed by the apex court of the country on non-destined trucks entering Delhi. This measure has helped in diverting the trucks from Delhi and reducing the pollution level in the city. Read more:

Also the odd-even rule which was imposed on an experimental basis in January is being imposed again in April for two weeks. A survey conducted by the state government had revealed that 81 percent of the respondents wanted the odd-even scheme to come back! More:

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The Supreme Court of India, on Monday, 9th October 2017, banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region. This means that Diwali, the festival of lights will be celebrated without crackers this year. Whether this ban will have the “positive effect” on the health of the citizens as envisaged by the Apex Judicial Body or are there more pressing issues with respect to air pollution, such as pollution from Thermal Power Plants which are being ignored in the process.

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So interesting - thanks @debayangupta for sharing! Just listening to a BBC report about just this subject, so it is clearly a really big deal. Maybe I am overly trivializing the case, but I find it interesting to think that the supreme court of India prefers to disappoint millions by banning fireworks than to confront power plants.

Maybe the future of fireworks will be along the lines of this article about the Beijing Olympics, where the televised version was completely computer generated!