Read Editorial with D2G – Ep CCXLIX (249)

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CLEAR THE HAZE

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MEANINGS are given in BOLD and ITALIC

The unhealthy haze (a state of mental confusion) over Delhi seems to have cleared, partially. But looks can be deceptive (misleading, illusory, illusive). Though there has been a marked improvement in air quality in the past two days, the pollution parameters are still about five to six times over the safe limits.

According to the Central Pollution Control Bureau (CPCB) yardstick (a standard used for comparison), the quality of the city’s air is still “severe” at most places and “very poor” at some others. The so-called improvement comes as the Delhi government announced a slew of “emergency measures” targeted at improving air quality.

But there seems to be a pattern to the Delhi government’s response: Almost every year, as soon as winter sets in, thick smog engulfs Delhi, residents complain of breathing difficulties and other health problems; there is media outcry and, at times, courts step in. As soon as there is a semblance (resemblance; similarity) of improvement in air quality, the government lets its guard down.

In 2014, a World Health Organisation study ranked Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. What is even more disquieting (inducing feelings of anxiety or worry) is that 12 other Indian cities were ranked among the 20 worst performers in the world. The improvement in Delhi’s air quality over the last two days has been accompanied (be present or occur at the same time as (something else)) by a deterioration (the process of becoming progressively worse) of the quality of air in Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur.

These cities, like Delhi, are landlocked and have very few avenues of flushing (typically as the result of illness or strong emotion) out the polluted air. Unfortunately, urban planning in India has rarely factored in such limitations of cities. The National Green Tribunal, with an unintended (not planned or meant) sense of the absurd (wildly unreasonable, illogical), has tried to make up for this failure: In the wake of the recent emergency, it admonished (advise or urge (someone) earnestly) the Delhi government for not deploying (bring into effective action) helicopters to create artificial rain to wash away the haze.

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