India: Plan to fight pollution ahead of Diwali festival



By APD writer Rishika Chauhan

**NEW DELHI, October 16 (APD): **Acting on a Supreme Court order, the government has decided to broadcast warnings on television, radio and newspapers whenever Delhi’s air quality drops to “very poor”.

As of now, air quality readings are available on websites and mobile applications of agencies like pollution control boards and the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

The warning system, which is designed on the lines of mechanisms used in Beijing and Paris, will be implement from Tuesday, two days before the festival of Diwali.

Dipankar Saha, the additional director and head of the Air Lab of Central Pollution Control Board said, “Whenever pollution increases, emission has to be cut. We are ready to tackle any situation.”

The need of putting in place a warning system was being acknowledged since last year after harsh smog forced authorities to shut schools and ban construction activities after Diwali in 2016. It is being speculated that parking charges will be increased three to four times, to encourage residents to use public transport.

In 2016, the pollution level post Diwali was the worst in last two decades. Burning of paddy stalks in the neighbouring provinces, vehicle exhaust and construction dust, added to the air pollution.

This led to Delhi being identified as the city with the worst air quality by the World Health Organization.

To combat the situation the odd-even car rationing system was launched in the capital along with a ban on construction activities.