India’s capital Delhi has announced that it is taking its fight against air pollution to social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. This comes following a decision by the Supreme Court that allows residents to make complaints about Delhi air pollution on social media in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).
On Tuesday, the Central Pollution Control Board reported that Delhi recorded air quality of 397 – just a few notes below a reading of 400, which indicates severe levels of air pollution.
Supreme court justices instructed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to create social media accounts for residents to file their complaints. According to Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of think tank Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi, garbage burning and unauthorized construction are rampant in the city, and “citizen vigilance” is needed to make the “system more accountable.”
The supreme court has also ordered police to seize diesel and petrol vehicles older than 15 and 10 years, respectively. According to one report, all private vehicles could be prohibited from roads if Delhi air pollution worsens, and a response plan to worsening smog will be implemented starting November 1st.
“Let us hope Delhi air pollution situation doesn’t deteriorate or else will have to stop plying of private vehicles, only public transport will be used,” said Bhure Lal, Chairman, Environment Pollution Control Authority.
Authorities have also asked 113 industries that have not converted to Piped Natural Gas (PNG) to shut down, according to an official statement earlier this week. One of the biggest challenges that India currently faces is developing its manufacturing industry – which could worsen its air quality further.
At USD 221 billion yearly, health care fees and productivity losses due to pollution cost India up to 8.5% of its GDP.
India – the world’s fastest growing economy – is home to 10 of the most polluted cities in the world, with matters being exacerbated during the fall, which is crop burning season and Diwali. Diwali, the Hindu Festival of the Lights, is widely celebrated at the beginning of November each year and contributes to large-scale air pollution due to the burning of Ravana effigies.
In November of last year, New Delhi faced its worst episodes of smog in recent years, spurring many residents to flee the city. According to one report, air quality in the city measured 999 on the Air Quality Index, which is more than three times the level considered hazardous.