The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Governments should stop the blame game and focus on long-term solutions for pollution

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Pointing fingers

Delhi’s pollution levels have been in the “severe category” since Monday, leading to declaration of a public health emergency by the government. Since Tuesday, the Delhi administration has taken several measures to bring down the level of pollutants in the air. On Wednesday, a high-level meeting chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal activated the relevant measures under the Graded Response Action Plan or GRAP put in place following last year’s intervention by the courts. Trucks have been barred from entering the city, parking fees have been increased four times, construction activities have been suspended and the municipality has been asked to sprinkle water to suppress dust particles.

But the measures have come too late and are still to address some of the fundamental problems fuelling what Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called “gas chamber” conditions. The primary of these is crop burning in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana, which the Delhi government feels contributes about 25% of the pollutants in the air during this time of the year. In fact, several cities across north India are facing similar levels of pollution.

Significantly, even the GRAP does not have much in it to tackle this menace. Sorting the crop burning problem requires concerted economic remedies. Farmers burn the stubble because it is more economical than using labour or machines to remove it. What was required was a clear plan to incentivise farmers who do not burn crop through economic inducements, something which has clearly not happened if one went by statements of the chief ministers.

On Thursday, Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh got into a verbal tussle. As Kejriwal blamed crop burning for Delhi choking in the smog, Singh accused the Aam Aadmi Party leader of lacking in understanding of issues but having an opinion on everything. “There is 20 million ton of paddy straw, where do I ask farmers to store? So Kejriwal doesn’t understand this problem,” he argued. The statement made it clear that Singh too doesn’t understand the gravity of the problem that is putting the health of millions across north India under danger. That the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress are political rivals in Punjab has not helped either. The menace required initiation of measures months before the onset of winter, something that did not transpire.

The National Green Tribunal’s comments on Thursday exposed this utter apathy on part of the governments concerned. The tribunal noted that no concrete measures have been put in place over the last one year. What has happened is trading of charges between departments with files moving from one office to another.

Even Kejriwal’s attempt to rake up the crop burning problem looks like an easy way out of the problem. The Delhi administration has failed to learn lessons from mega cities across the world that had faced similar situation in the past. For example, when pollution went up to dangerous levels in Singapore in the 2000s, the government reacted by increasing taxes on large cars and discouraging private transport. In Delhi, rather than systematically taking on the car lobby which has resisted regulations, the government resorts to stop gap measures such as the odd-even plan, under which cars with odd and even number plates will ply only on alternate days. This plan will come into force on Monday for five days. In fact, even emergency measures were not initiated on time. Records show that the GRAP was not implemented as per the mandate, with citizens getting no alerts about the deteriorating conditions.

The governments should realise that temporary measures can never be a substitute to sustained long-term measures in tackling a serious environmental problem such as pollution.

The Big Scroll

  • Bad air quality is a public problem, yet election campaigns in five states were silenton it.  

Punditry

  1.   Saudi palace politics has entered a destabilising phase, and its impact is already being felt across West Asia, Stanly Johny writes in The Hindu.  
  2. Lessons from Mexico City: Series of steps needed to signal that life can’t go on as usual when the air is so toxic, says Melba Maria Pria Olavarrieta in the Indian Express. 
  3. Evidence is emerging that dating applications are influencing levels of interracial marriage and even the stability of marriage itself.  

Giggles

Don’t miss

Mass protests against its pet projects put Kerala’s ruling CPI(M) in a bind.

“In Kozhikode and Malappuram, protests have been going on for over a month against the Gas Authority of India Limited’s proposal to lay pipes for carrying Liquid Natural Gas through thickly populated localities. Residents have been demanding realignment of the pipeline because they are worried about their safety. “A minor leak in the pipeline will result in a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions,” said Latheef, a resident of Mukkam village in Kozhikode, who has not given permission for the line to run through his land.” 

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Expressing grief can take on creative forms

Even the most intense feelings of loss can be accompanied by the need to celebrate memories, as this new project shows.

Grief is a universal emotion and yet is one of the most personal experiences. Different people have their own individual ways of dealing with grief. And when it comes to grief that emerges from the loss of a loved one, it too can manifest in myriad ways.

Moving on from grief into a more life-affirming state is the natural human inclination. Various studies point to some commonly experienced stages of grieving. These include numbness, pining, despair and reorganization. Psychologist J.W. Worden’s 4-stage model for mourning includes accepting the reality of loss, working through the pain, adjusting to life without the deceased and maintaining a connection with the deceased, while moving on. Central to these healing processes would be finding healthy ways of expressing grief and being able to articulate the void they feel.

But just as there is no one way in which people experience grief, there is also no one common way in which they express their grief. Some seek solace from talking it out, while some through their work and a few others through physical activities. A few also seek strength from creative self-expressions. Some of the most moving pieces of art, literature and entertainment have in fact stemmed from the innate human need to express emotions, particularly grief and loss.

As a tribute to this universal human need to express the grief of loss, HDFC Life has initiated the Memory Project. The initiative invites people to commemorate the memory of their loved ones through music, art and poetry. The spirit of the project is captured in a video in which people from diverse walks of life share their journey of grieving after the loss of a loved one.

The film captures how individuals use creative tools to help themselves heal. Ankita Chawla, a writer featured in the video, leans on powerful words to convey her feelings for her father who is no more. Then there is Aarifah, who picked up the guitar, strummed her feelings and sang “let’s not slow down boy, we’re perfectly on time”, a line from a song she wrote for her departed love. Comedian Neville Shah addresses his late mother in succinct words, true to his style, while rapper Prabhdeep Singh seeks to celebrate the memory of his late friend through his art form. One thing they all express in common is the spirit of honouring memories. Watch the video below:

Play

The Memory Project by HDFC Life aims to curate more such stories that celebrate cherished memories and values that our loved ones have left behind, making a lasting impression on us. You can follow the campaign on Facebook as well as on Twitter.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HDFC Life Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.