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Quoting the recent AQI of Kolkata & Delhi that hits "Severe" category, what measures you can suggest to improve it or to prevent it in the future?

What are your views on this?


From our Team Members

India’s air pollution problem needs to be tackled systematically, taking an all-of-Government approach, to reduce the huge burden of associated ill-health. Increased concentrations of ambient air pollutants lead to increase the risk of acute and chronic health problems. Air pollution is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer, and increases the risks of acute respiratory infections and exacerbates asthma. While effective policies to reduce emissions at their sources are clearly preferable; some evidence supports the effectiveness of individual actions to reduce exposure and health risks. Personal exposure to ambient air pollution can be reduced on high air pollution days by staying indoors, reducing outdoor air infiltration to indoors, cleaning indoor air with air filters, and limiting physical exertion, especially outdoors and near air pollution sources. The sources of India's air pollution are many: indoor cook-stoves, road traffic including the ubiquitous auto-rickshaws that use a toxic mix of kerosene and diesel, industrial plants that burn fossil fuels and open burning of waste. Cities should start focusing on switching to clean energy sources including solar, wind, hydro etc.

Vehicular pollution being one of the main culprits behind air pollution can be minimized if the Public transport system is encouraged. Measures can be taken to reduce road traffic by raising fuel taxes and parking fees, levying congestion charges, and creating vehicle-free zones and cycle paths. E-Rickshaw (run on compressed natural gas) and solar-powered vehicles can also be one of the alternatives. Use of cycles should be highly motivated. Also, something needs to be done to make the fuel clean because as we know the adulterated fuel will only make the condition worse. Present need is demanding to adopt more efficient vehicle technologies and standards. It’s high time for tighter vehicle emissions norms, higher penalties for burning rubbish and better control of road dust. Recent Government initiatives towards committing to a 50% reduction in households using solid fuel for cooking is a significant step that removes subsidies for polluting cooking gas to improve access to clean fuel for household cooking. In addition to that India is included in a target on reducing air pollution to the nine targets set out in WHO’s Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020 in its national NCDs strategy. These recent efforts are an important first step in this direction.

- Bhavya

According to World Health Organization, among the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 14 are from India. On an average Indian citizens are exposed to PM2.5 concentrations between 15 and 32 times more than the air quality guidelines set by the World Health Organization which leads to serious health hazards.

India already has Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act since 1981 to control air pollution. In addition to its following government initiatives has been launched in the past few years to reduce air pollution, these included reduction in particulate matter emissions by Coal Power Plants (Ministry of Power), setting emission standards for brick manufacturing industry and facilitating management of agricultural residues to reduce stubble burning (Ministry of Environment), stricter vehicle emission regulation and up gradation of vehicles to more fuel efficient standards (Bharat VI).

Following measures can be adopted in addition to Government Act and initiatives to reduce air pollution :
• Government should provide incentives to the farmers for removing the stubble from the roots instead of burning.
• Provide tax benefits for buying electric vehicles
• Regular monitoring of construction Site
• Government should strictly regulate the emission level of thermal plants and industries
• Increase the landscape area by planning sustainable buildings

We, as a citizen, should understand reducing air pollution is not only the responsibility of Government, until we won’t realize the severity of air pollution it will be difficult to curb air pollution.

- Rahul Yadav

Air Pollution is not restricted to one city, it’s a global phenomenon. According to the WHO Report, Indian cities suffer the most because of air pollution. Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden. The World Health Organization also reported that 93 percent of all children in the world breathe air with pollution levels that exceed their guidelines. Many different air pollutants can impact health - nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and ozone are among them. But the database classifies air pollution in two ways : by PM 2.5, particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, and by PM 10, particles that are 10 microns in diameter. The smaller PM 2.5 particles from sources like open flames and diesel exhaust can linger in the air longer and penetrate deeper into the lungs than larger particles, which is why they are the bigger concern for health officials and a high-priority target for reduction. Frequent unhealthy levels of pollution from sources ranging from vehicles to the burning of coal and wood for cooking, dust storms, or forest fires affect most of the country.

With the right kind of push and pull measures, it would be possible to reduce the level of air pollutants. By replacing existing cook stoves with clean cook stoves, reducing pollution from diesel transport and restricting open burning of biomass and fossil fuels are the major steps which would help curb the problem. Liquid petroleum gas and electricity, along with biogas and ethanol are some of the clean energy alternatives. India could cut its total air pollution by one third overnight by giving clean cooking stoves to all the villagers. It is important to recommend people to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and minimize the use of private vehicles to reduce exposure to toxic air. Use of water-based or solvent free paints whenever possible and buy products that mention "low VOC", keeping automobiles well-tuned and maintained, following the manufacturer’s instructions on routine maintenance, such as changing the oil and filters, and checking tire pressure and wheel alignment are some of the measures which can be incorporated in our daily life. A small change in our day to day life can make a big difference and help to overcome the problems of pollution.

- Chaitra Poojary

India being developing country there are various environmental problems faced by the country. Air pollution being of the major problem, country facing these days. India is heading towards the worst air quality. The major part of the country being effected is the Northern belt. Reasons for the air pollution in this regions is Vehicular Emissions, burning of crop residues. But one of the factor in this states for air pollution is effect of temperature inversion and stable wind conditions.

Low temperatures and calm winds are characteristic features of Northern India. Calm wind prevents dispersion of pollutants and temperature inversion tends to trap the pollutants. Thus increasing concentration of pollutants. The formation of low pressure troughs across this region causes winds to converge, resulting in trapping of local, as well as pollution from outside. Loose alluvial soil of the belt, contributes towards dust particulates in the air. Also the major problem of air pollution in country is its Thermal Power Generation.

The measures to reduce air pollution should be taken by every individual. The following measures can be taken to reduce air pollution and its effects :
• Using of public transport and carpooling.
• Shifting to cleaner methods of electricity.
• Using recycled water to spray on roads, as measure of dust suppressants.
• Applying stringent traffic rules.
• Plantation of native trees along roadsides and in open spaces.
• Uprooting crop residues instead of burning of farm lands, saving both quality of soil and air.
• Creating awareness among the people of pollution.
• Adopting to sustainable method of living. India has sustainable living since ancient times. Thus never forget the roots.

- Mugdha Gaonkar

According to the recent report of NITI Aayog, India is facing a serious water crisis and by 2030, the country’s water demand is predicted to be double its available supply.

What steps you feel should be taken to ensure Sustainable Management of the Available Water?


From our Team Members

According to the Government, India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and around 600 million people face a severe water shortage. Approximately 200,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to clean water and it’s only going to get worse as it is estimated that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater by 2020.

There is an immediate need to deepen our understanding about the available water resource and usage and put in place interventions that make our water use efficient and sustainable. According to the 2012 World Bank Report, India is the largest consumer of groundwater in the world.

About 230 cubic km of groundwater is used every year due to which the groundwater level is diminishing. This crisis can be tackled by restoring and enhancing groundwater recharge areas, restoration of ponds, lakes and river system, rainwater and roof top harvesting is one of the best method. Planning and adapting proper groundwater management strategies are required to secure, sustain and rejuvenate the accessible ground water. These measures if incorporated can help our country to transform from a ‘groundwater deficient’ to ‘groundwater sufficient’ nation and provide sustainable water availability for about one-fifth of the global population.

The eventual goal is to broaden the participation parameters and allow sector experts to share innovation and create innovative products that tackle the problems. With the possibility of open application programming interfaces (APIs), a bouquet of diverse expertise can contribute to improve, emphasize and normalize sustainable water-management practices.

-Chaitra Poojary

As we know that “Availability and Sustainability of Water” is an important part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and looking at the present scenario for water demand, it is undoubtedly clear that there is an urgent need for Sustainable Conservation of Water.

Primarily, it is very important to understand that unlike electricity water can be reused again & again. This characteristic opens the door for implementation of various options for the sustainable use of water resource. To achieve the desired purpose, different approaches should be employed to manage existing water quantity & quality. Starting with protecting and restoring freshwater ecosystems by developing sanitary infrastructure, which is crucial in protecting the freshwater from eutrophication. Secondly, desalinization has the potential to provide an adequate water quantity to those regions that are freshwater poor. However, the energy demands of reverse osmosis, a widely-used procedure used to remove salt from water, are a challenge to the adaptation of this technology as a sustainable one. This challenge can be tackled by providing its energy demands through renewable energies & efficient technologies.

Presently, the demand of the hour is, to shift focus from irrigation projects and groundwater withdrawal to Rainwater Harvesting, Smart Water Pricing, enhanced Public-Private Partnership Basin-based integrated river water management and water use efficiency. No conservation measures can be proved useful without applying it at the ground level. Therefore, greater public awareness needs to be undertaken. Above all, it’s necessary to post-monitor the steps once taken.

-Bhavya Ankita

As per June 2018, NITI Aayog’s Report named (Composite Water Management Index for 2016-2017) nearly 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress. This is an alarming situation as the major portion of water available to us is non-potable; the condition will be more severe in the coming future. To overcome this crisis, steps need to be taken at local, community as well as on administrative level.

Overexploitation of groundwater should be completely prohibited; groundwater should be extracted by obtaining appropriate permission from CGWA strict laws should be formed against violators who are overexploiting groundwater. Environmental consequences of groundwater exploitation need to be effectively explained to locals by local Government Bodies, Gram Sabhas etc. ZLD should be made mandatory for every industry so that fresh water load may be reduced to the certain extent. Coastal areas should focus on desalination of water as it can serve as the major relief and will reduce water demand for e.g. Nemmeli Seawater Desalination Plant at Chennai which supplies water to Chennai city. Rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory for each and every complexes / industries.

At an administrative level, Governmental Agencies should work together and make sure that clean and safe drinking water is accessible to every citizen. Degradation of water sources by pollution from various point and non-point sources should be reduced; Governmental Agencies should ensure that surface water is not polluted by discharge of any untreated effluent. For drought-prone areas, Watershed Management and minor Irrigation Projects would be suitable which should be allowed and encouraged to be developed by the local communities, with technical and financial help from the Government and NGOs. At the national level, states which are under-performing in Composite Water Management (CWM) should work in collaboration with the best CWM management states, so that techniques and steps adopted by best composite water management states can be adopted in their states.

-Rahul Yadav

India is a producer of 2 Million Tones/Year of E-waste in World. Despite stringent Government Regulations, 80% of E-waste handled by unorganized sector.

So do you think there is need for sound management?


From our Team Members

India generates more than two million of electronic and electrical waste (E-waste) per year, and also imports undisclosed amounts of E-waste from other countries. It is estimated that more than 95% of India’s E-waste is processed by a widely distributed network of informal workers of rag pickers. They collect, dismantle and recycle it and operate illegally outside any regulated or formal organization system.

There is an increase in the quantity of E-waste because of increased consumption and also obsolescence. According to a study in May 2017, the volume of waste is growing at an estimated 21 percent annually. It is important that inventorization of the E-waste produced annually should be done by engaging an established government agency. If these waste are processed scientifically, valuable metals such as copper, silver, gold and platinum can be recovered from it which will help in managing the environment sustainably. It is important to create awareness as it is a key for both stakeholders and consumers. Also considering the adverse impact caused by untreated E-waste on land, the government should encourage the new and existing entrepreneurs by providing necessary financial support, technological guidance as well as by giving special concessions.

It is high time that the government takes proactive initiative to recycle and dispose E-waste safely to protect the environment and ensure the well-being of the general public and other living organisms.

- Chaitra Poojary

In this technical era, where every electronic item is upgraded and replaced by latest one’s the quantity of E-waste is increasing enormously. India is the fifth largest electronic waste producer in the world. Although, there are various guidelines and rules directed by Government for E-waste management but there is a lack of awareness among common people about the ill effects of E-waste, thus they do not segregate e-waste and discard it along with common municipal solid waste which indirectly affects rag pickers, municipal workers etc.

Awareness need to be generated among people about the toxins and hazards associated with E-waste. Government should set up E-waste collecting units so that E-waste gets discarded in environmentally sound manner and the valuable material from it can be reused.

There should be regular audit by pollution control board or any designated Governmental agency to check whether bulk generators of e-waste follow the conditions which was incorporated by SPCB’s while granting permission to run unit.

- Rahul Yadav

E-waste include toxic substances such as Cadmium and Lead which even in a small amount, mixed with the residual waste will introduce relatively high amount of heavy metals that is very injurious to the human health. Till today we can see that E-wastes are disposed along with the municipal waste. The main focus should be given on establishing environmentally sound recycling infrastructure and then to make related regulatory regime more stringent & proper monitoring of the rules once implemented.

E-waste represents a challenging recycling problem for several reasons. This is due to the reason of the material complexity of the product, a combination of valuable metals with hazardous ones so attention is needed to attain the recycling of E-waste in environmentally friendly manner.

- Bhavya Ankita

Considering the current power scenario and advancement in solar technology.

Can solar energy be a mainstream power in India?


From our Team Members

Solar power offers best solution to fossil fuel emissions and global climate change. India is both densely populated and has high solar insulation, providing an ideal combination for solar power in India. India is already a leader in wind power generation. In solar energy sectors some large projects have been proposed.

India is a tropical country where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Therefore, solar energy has great potential as future energy source and also has the advantage of permitting the decentralized distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroot level. Growing population along with increasing electrification and per-capita usage to drive growth in power consumption in coming years. In order to meet this increasing demand for electricity in the country, massive addition to the installed generating capacity is required. Using solar energy can help reduce the water consumption, carbon footprint, climate change and also help in conserving fossil fuel.

- Chaitra Poojary

As of March 2018, out of total installed power capacity, 57.9% is from coal whereas solar contributes to only 5.8%. Being a tropical country geographically, India has huge potential in generating solar energy as it receives solar radiation almost throughout the year.

As mentioned above, at present only 5-6% of total install power capacity is of solar no doubt there are ongoing projects which can in future increase power dependency of country to certain extent on solar but saying solar will be mainstream of power supply is difficult as there is huge gap between solar and coal which is major source of energy in country.

- Rahul Yadav

As far as our country's electricity production has been considered, we can very well see an imbalance between the demand of electricity & the supply for it. In the scenario like this where the consumption is greater than the production; electricity produced by solar plants can be a fulfilling option.

India has a power generation capacity of about 170K MW of which only about 8–10% is generated through renewable sources. From the above we can mark the potential of our country to generate electricity from the renewable source like solar power. Indian climate is suitable for the solar initiatives and adequate amount of sunlight that reaches is a source of unlimited energy, adds a bonus to it. India being driven by solar units as a mainstream electricity will not only solve the purpose of electricity demand but it will also help the environment directly in the environmental protection & if we talk from the country's perspective then it will assist India in the economic development also. Solar power plants can play a huge role in meeting the energy security goals for our country.

- Bhavya Ankita

Maharashtra has become 18th state in India to enforce a complete ban on plastic bags.

But will the ban really work on the ground?


From our Team Members

India generates about 5 million tones of plastic waste annually. In Maharashtra 3 to 5 % of all garbage generated consists of plastics. To combat this problem, Maharashtra Government finally enforced its well-planned ban on single use plastic items. Officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and district and local administration has been authorized to implement this ban. The ban was imposed to minimize the environmental risks and harm caused to wild animals from accidental ingestion or entanglement.

Plastic is a threat to the environment as it made up of fossil fuel source such as natural gas and petroleum. Toxic chemicals bleed into our water from the plastic products that we use. As it is non biodegradable, it always exist in the environment, crowding the landfill and polluting the ocean. The ban can be successful only if the government suggest affordable alternatives to plastic. The actual implementation can become ineffective as people may find it difficult to get around it if no cheap alternatives are available.

- Chaitra Poojary

Banning plastic is an appreciable work and by doing so Maharashtra Government has took huge step in combating plastic pollution and risks associated with it. Plastic being major required commodity in every day to day life banning it will definitely have some impact on common people but if Government has appropriate planning and provides suitable substitute which can replace plastic, Surely this ban will be successful.

Government should also take stringent against people using plastic even after providing alternative to it. Implementing plastic ban on ground is a huge administrative work which can only be implemented with effective planning.

- Rahul Yadav

Ban on plastic bags by the Maharashtra Government is a welcome move. The excessive careless use of plastics has caused a great environmental damage. Most of the plastic make their way into ocean in a form of microplastics. Microplastics consists a diversity of polymer types (e.g., poly-ethylene, polypropylene) which can have their sources from different areas. The formation of microplastics takes place by breaking down of larger particulate plastic by the process of photolysis, thermo-oxidation, thermo-degradation and also possibly by biodegradation.

Chemicals from plastics are becoming a constant part of daily diet for the biotic consumers, when talking about the marine pollution. Since we know that plastic do not degrade easily so it is capable of having toxic effects on both the environment as well as on the human lives.

Plastic ban has the potential to help our environment however this will only be feasible when the ban will be applicable with an alternative offered at the same time.

- Bhavya Ankita

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Viewer: |   Last Updated: 22-02-2019