Air Quality improves but the official approach needs improvement


There have been reports that the Air Quality in the capital and its adjoining areas has improved because of cross winds, though it is yet to be out of the danger levels that have been prescribed by experts. The air quality and the pollution phenomenon has become an annual feature and despite knowing that this problem would set in during the last four months of the year, neither the State governments or the Centre have been able to find any solutions. Each year, certain measures get announced which are largely on paper so that the bureaucrats incharge of the project can absolve themselves of the responsibility, and easily blame it on the farmers or other factors that can be identified. What is forgotten is that the focus should not be on what is the quality of air, but on the response of our bureaucrats. It is they who need to improve and set the house in order. They should be frank and candid and put on record the reasons for the hazards and how they can be overcome. Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana are just a part of the pollution story. The emissions from automobiles constitute a big percentage to the deteriorating standards of air quality. The officials should ask themselves as to what can be done to curtail the sale of vehicles, and whether putting an embargo on the purchase of new cars etc. help in any manner? There should be a proper study to back the decisions and they should not be taken off the cuff. The biggest reason for the congestion is the large population in the areas, both in the capital and its neighbourhood. How can these slums and over population be curtailed or reduced are some of the biggest challenges. Since the issue also has political dimensions, the bureaucracy, would always prefer to ignore these aspects. It is yes equally important that political parties, regardless of their own beliefs, rise to the occasion and help in resolving the matter. There has to be a permanent solution, or to begin with certain steps must be initiated that would lead to the issue being addressed as soon as possible. The work culture for achieving targets seems to be lacking. For the bureaucracy, the negative approach is always at play and unless the officialdom thinks positively, nothing much would ever be possible. On another note, for instance during monsoons, there is water logging, and it is mostly in areas that have been identified. Yet there is nothing that has been done to ensure that this water logging does not happen. In fact, under the Minto Bridge, a photograph of a submerged bus appears in every newspaper in the city every year, and it is indeed a matter of great shame that no engineering assistance has been able to solve the problem. The underpasses that have been made including the recent ones are closed because there is water underneath, and the traffic flow in the metropolis becomes painfully slow leading to massive traffic jams all over. On top of that due to lack of coordination between multiple agencies that operate in Delhi, man-made obstructions also come into play. For instance, the Delhi Jal Board goes on a digging spree on several roads just when the rains are about to come, and the entire stretches on these thoroughfares get closed to traffic. The Lt.Governor and the Chief Minister, should both stop squabbling over postings and transfers and concentrate on these vital matters which are of common good for the residents. In Gurugram, the infra-structure is extremely poor and there are no storm water drains to allow the accumulated water on the roads to find an outlet. During the winters, when heavy fog sets in, there is difficulty in identifying signages which in most cases are missing. However, because liquor is the major source of revenue, there are neon signs that direct the motorists to where they can buy their poison. To make matters worse for citizens who are encouraged to buy alcohol, police barricades at vantage points are there to prosecute those who are driving around with alcohol in their system. The point is not that drunken driving should not be punished. But there must be stricter enforcement at Liquor outlets which often remain surreptitiously open even after the opening hours. The important thing is that the work culture needs to overall improve and this would certainly lead to a better quality of life for citizens. The reasons for pollution or all other problems are well known but the lack of coordination results in making things worse. There needs to be better awareness amongst citizens as well, but the bureaucrats need to pull up their socks and not consider each posting as a temporary step towards bigger designations. Although politicians get blamed in the public space for everything that goes wrong, yet it is significant to note that the officials are more at fault. The politicians hold their posts for a fixed term and seek the people’s mandate every five years. However, the bureaucrats after passing just one exam, get a permanent license to achieve their goals. What should never be forgotten is that there are always exceptions to the rule and people and citizens are more important than anything else.