In India pollution takes a heavy toll on humans, especially on those living in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, etc. Millions of people die every year due to pollution-related ailments. Here are some ways that we can consider to contain pollution in urban centres
-Commander VK Jaitly
urban cities of the world are suffering from the demon called pollution. The simplest solution is to curb the use of everything that causes pollution. But it is easier to say than to do. I have been thinking about it. Being a resident of Delhi, I am a victim too. My solution to problem of pollution is people-centric. The government can be an enabler and facilitator. Here is my seven-point formula that needs to be immediately implemented. I guarantee more than 50% relief. Execution is not that difficult. If we start now, improvement will be visible very soon. Here are the seven points:
- Sweepers should stop brooming the roads daily as brooming throws too much of dust in the air. Brooming should be just done once a week or when required. It should be done different roads on different days. So the amount of dust thrown in the atmosphere will get reduced to 1/6th. But picking up of garbage, the filth like polythene bags, water bottles, toffee/chips wrappers etc should be picked up daily two to three times to give a push to Swachh Baharat Mission.
- Let most of the crossings in city have water fountains that throw the water up in almost mist form at least 20 ft high and spread in a diameter of 20 ft. There may be more than a lakh crossings where these fountains can be put. Those who talk about scarcity of water, let me say that that more than 80% water gets recycled into fountains. Our cities will become cities of fountains adding to their beauty. They will increase humidity a bit and reduce the cases of illness to some extent. These fountains can be created by corporate houses/Universities/ Colleges/Big Business Houses of that area and in return they can be given advertising rights in the fountain area.
- There are at least 50% roads even in cities like Delhi where there is a scope for planting more trees on the two sides and at the central verge. That should be done immediately. The more trees we have, the better the air quality. They would not only emit oxygen, but also act like filtres during dust storms and absorb some dust that is thrown into the atmosphere from vehicle emissions.
- Increase the height of hedges on central verge or road dividers to a minimum of 6 ft from current 3 to 4 ft. This will double their capacity to emit oxygen and absorb dust. This will give the additional benefit of stopping the glare at night from traffic coming from the opposite side and thus reduce incidents of accidents during night drive.
- The light from lamp posts in colonies is obstructed by trees. So municipalities keep trimming these trees generally twice a year. At times almost 50% of the tree leaves and branches are cut. This reduces density of green trees reducing the dust absorption and oxygen emission capacity. This puts additional burden of disposing of these cut green branches to landfills through trucks and that further increases pollution. To overcome all this, just reduce the heights of these electric light poles from existing 20 or 30 ft to just about 10 to 12 ft. The additional benefit will be reduction in cost of the poles. Also the existing poles need not be replaced; just reduce the height of the light fitting on the existing pole with a new clamp. The additional benefits will be for the birds who find it difficult to sleep on these trees due to strong light all around. We want our roads to be lighted and not the branches of the trees.
- Along the periphery of roof tops, particularly in multi-storey buildings, let there be a pipe running with sprinklers. Every day, sprinkle the water away from the building just for 30 to 60 minutes daily in the evening. That water falling on the ground along the periphery will be used for plants. During summer, it will be a paradise bringing down the temperature also a bit and it will absorb a lot of dust particles and other pollutants in the air.
- All trucks and buses in cities like Delhi be fitted with a horizontal sprinkler pipe at the back. We have a water sprinkler for the wind shield. Same technology of a water pump and a button with the driver needs to be used for sprinkling water on the ground from a horizontal pipe at the back of the bus or truck. Whenever, the vehicle passes through some dusty area, driver just presses a button and sprinklers get switched on for 30 seconds or a minute to settle the dust. These sprinklers can be encouraged for cars also. Buses and trucks need to carry hardly 10 to 20 litres of water and use it only when on a dusty road. And if a bus ahead has just used sprinklers, you need not use it.
More than One lakh crossings are where fountains can be built. Those who talk about scarcity of water, let me say that that more than 80% water gets recycled into fountains. Our cities will become cities of fountains which will add to their beauty
We all understand that water is also a scarce resource. And here I am advocating some solutions based on the use of water. Let me tell you that the water consumed in all these solutions will be much less than what is being advocated as sprinkling water from helicopters and use of water cannons etc. There is no doubt, we need to work on reviving old water bodies of our all cities and that will make them more beautiful and improve the climate also. Water harvesting should also be made mandatory. And people should be encouraged to save water and conserve water so that it is available to us for fighting pollution.
All the seven solutions mentioned above are very simple and decentralised and easy to execute. All other measures like switching to green energy, encouraging use of electrical vehicles, observing strict control at construction sites and many more should continue.
(The writer is an ex IITian with 35+ years of experience in corporate, academics and defence)