Changes show air pol­lu­tion is not just a win­ter prob­lem

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - BE­YOND THE NEWS

The In­dian In­sti­tute of Trop­i­cal Me­te­o­rol­ogy has said that both the pe­ri­od­ic­ity and du­ra­tion of dry spells in the coun­try were ris­ing as the to­tal rain­fall events in a year had fallen even though the average rain­fall in a year has not changed much, a di­rect con­se­quence of cli­mate change. The an­nual average rain­fall has re­mained the same be­cause the fre­quency of heavy down­pours (for ex­am­ple, the June 2013 flash floods in Ut­tarak­hand) has in­creased in the past two decades.

Dur­ing dry spells, the earth gets heated up and mois­ture in the at­mos­phere dips, cre­at­ing de­pres­sions that pull winds from the oceans. As there is less rain and the green bar­ri­ers in and around cities have been de­stroyed, the winds lift dust and lo­cal emis­sions, caus­ing a spurt in air pol­lu­tion. Such events have been higher in 2018 -- a year of freaky weather that wit­nessed three killer thun­der­storms in May be­fore this dust-laden west­erly -- be­cause the average rain­fall since Novem­ber 2017 has been about 60% below nor­mal.

The im­pact could have been sub­stan­tially re­duced had govern­ments — the states and the Cen­tre — made air pol­lu­tion mit­i­ga­tion a round-the-clock ex­er­cise, and not re­stricted it to win­ter months, when the pol­lu­tion is high. As a re­sult, most of North In­dia is cov­ered un­der a veil of dust haze with air pol­lu­tion worse than that in the win­ter months.

Blam­ing only weather con­di­tions would be a colos­sal mis­take.

It is a man-made catas­tro­phe that im­pacts health of one and all, as half of the air pol­lu­tion spurt is caused by lo­cal dust in the ab­sence of proper road­side land­scap­ing and emis­sions from in­dus­try and ve­hi­cles. In the com­ing years, we can pre­vent such events by en­sur­ing that ev­ery city im­ple­ments the Cen­tre’s dust-man­age­ment plan, there are re­stric­tions on reg­is­tra­tion of new fuel-guz­zling ve­hi­cles, and green dust bar­ri­ers are de­vel­oped around cities.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.