In­dia launches phone app to mon­i­tor New Delhi’s pol­lu­tion

Malta Independent - - ENVIRONMENT -

In­dia’s cap­i­tal, labour­ing un­der the la­bel of be­ing the world’s most pol­luted city, is try­ing some­thing new to help clean up its air.

A smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tion that al­lows res­i­dents to re­port the pres­ence of con­struc­tion dust or the burn­ing of leaves and garbage in New Delhi’s pub­lic parks to au­thor­i­ties was launched Fri­day.

The “Hawa Badlo,” or “Change the Air,” app has two ver­sions. One al­lows peo­ple to take pic­tures of likely pol­lu­tants. The other al­lows au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate and act on valid com­plaints.

Over the last few years, New Delhi has strug­gled with ways to han­dle the pol­lu­tion, which be­comes es­pe­cially ob­vi­ous dur­ing the colder win­ter months as the city’s air turns to a gray haze.

The new­est mea­sure, the phone app, was launched by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­lu­tion (Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol) Au­thor­ity, a mon­i­tor­ing group set up on the or­der of In­dia’s Supreme Court in April.

Over the last decade or so, In­dia, like neigh­bour­ing China, has seen pol­lu­tion spi­ral as its econ­omy has boomed and it has con­tin­ued to rely on burn­ing coal to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity. The num­ber of ve­hi­cles on the road has sky­rock­eted, while hun­dreds of mil­lions of im­pov­er­ished peo­ple still use wood, kerosene or what­ever they can grab at the garbage dump to build fires for cook­ing or keep­ing warm on win­ter nights.

Over the last two years, the govern­ment has tried a slew of mea­sures to con­trol the air pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing stricter emis­sion norms for cars and a tax on diesel-fu­elled trucks that en­ter the city.

New Delhi also has at­tempted to limit the num­ber of cars dur­ing the win­ter months, when the air qual­ity is at its worst. Twice the city had a two-week pe­riod in which cars were al­lowed on the roads only on even or odd days, de­pend­ing on the ve­hi­cle’s li­cense plate num­ber.

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