ENSURING POLLUTION FREE NATION

It is really an irony that pollution free environment in cities across the nation is a thing of the past today. While the legislature, executive and the judiciary alongwith the multiple nongovernmental organizations are making relentless efforts to address the issue, the ground situation as it exists today has made the common citizens of the nation apprehensive about any substantial achievement on this front. They have every reason to feel that a pollution free environment especially for the cities will remain only a utopian concept. Despite the fact that this issue has direct impact upon the health of the people, there seems to be laxity on the front in terms of ground implementation for which all the stakeholders including the citizens are responsible. The NGT as well as the apex court of the nation have also been playing a vital role from time to time in the direction of ensuring pollution free cities in India whenever these judicial institutions are approached in pollution concerning cases. The trial run of odd-even number vehicles by the Delhi government was yet another novel solution to bring down the pollution levels considerably. It is an acknowledged fact that while progressing by leaps and bounds in every sector, the development of cities across the nation has a sordid tale to narrate in terms of health related issues emanation due to high pollution levels due to industrialization, population explosion in urban areas and last but not the least the utter negligence of one and all in this matter which deserves topmost priority today. Present situation demands that while there should be ensured zero-pollution areas in new habitations that are to come up both in urban as well as semi-urban areas, at the same time there has to be equal focus on bringing down the pollution to zero harm level by adopting the latest technologies for which funds should not be a hurdle. It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court the other day in one of its orders rightly said that the Delhi government could use the funds collected from the Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) for purchasing remote-sensing machines which would detect pollution emitted from diesel vehicles plying on the roads here. The apex court said this after the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) suggested that remote-sensing technology was revolutionary and it was successfully used in China and Hong Kong to tackle the problem of air pollution. The EPCA’s report on steps to be taken to strengthen pollution under control (PUC) mechanism has recommended the use of remote-sensing machines, which was already being used in Kolkata as a pilot project. Though in the instant case only the pollution by vehicles has been taken up, yet it needs to be mentioned here that the installation of pollution control equipments in industrial and other commercial establishments also needs to be ensured by the enforcement agencies. Yet another concern on this front is the smog menace arising mainly due to crop burning especially in northern India. Either it needs to be stopped by bringing in requisite legislations or else certain scientific solutions need to be provided to the farmers. It is a fact that the latest technology to confront and control the menace of pollution, there is requirement of huge funds with the equipments being highly expensive. However the positive aspect is that environmental protection initiative is a global movement today and there is flooding of funds for the purpose by the developed nations as well as other international agencies. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 12.6 million people die from environmental health risks annually with air pollution being the fourth highest risk factor for premature deaths and to be exact, one in ten deaths worldwide is attributable to air pollution exposure. The impact of water and other forms of pollution is no less. In this context it is pertinent to mention that the World Bank is playing a tremendous role by providing technical assistance, financing and knowledge products that cover improving air quality through the reduction of indoor/outdoor air pollution; improving water quality, both in freshwater and in oceans; integrating management of waste including hazardous waste management and remediation of contaminated sites; reducing short lived climate pollutants for climate change mitigation; promoting environmental sustainability through cleaner production and pollution prevention and last but not the least the strengthening of environmental institutions by helping countries improve environmental governance, regulation and enforcement. In view of such initiatives there is a dire need at the governmental level across the nation to adopt the multipronged projects to address the environmental problems at the earliest availing the facilities provided by the World Bank besides working out local solutions with economic viability that could be pursued without aid from the international agencies.