Tuesday January 23, 2018
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Battling pollution or compromising on safety, Delhi women face tough choice

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New Delhi: The Delhi government’s decision to curb vehicles on the capital’s roads has given hope of battling pollution, but the measure, announced on an experimental basis, has become a cause of concern for women, who fear it would compromise their safety.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday, was asked about the safety aspect when people leave their cars and take public transport.

“Would you guarantee my pocket is not picked or a woman is safe in public transport,” a male questioner asked.

Prefacing his reply with a “Delhi Police does not come under me” disclaimer, Kejriwal, who had announced on Friday that from January 1, 2016, odd and even numbers would be permitted on alternate days, said, “People are as safe in public transport as they are in private vehicles.”

Most women, while equally expressing concern about the environment, differed with the chief minister when it came to feeling safe on Delhi roads.

“I am not happy with this decision, public transport in Delhi is not very good and you have a tough time trying to take an auto-rickshaw.What are the women expected to do?” asked Diksha Saxena, an operations manager with a private firm.

“Even to walk on the roads of Delhi, you need armour.The idea sounds good but is not practical,” Saxena told a news agency.

Alka Kaushik, a freelance travel writer, said, “Its a senseless order, an imported concept which is being implemented without seeing the ground realities. Imagine, I cam use my even-number plate car one day, and the next day, I should use the insufficient public transport on the same route.If I can use public transport on a day, why not every day?

“But is that possible? Look at the route from Indirapuram (in suburban Ghaziabad) to Delhi University. The kind of people you come across while travelling, does the chief minister realise that? A car is not a convenience for me but a necessity. It is a solution to the inefficiency of authorities who could not give the people a good public transport system in all these years,” she added.

Kakoli, a Delhi government employee who did not want to give her surname, echoed this view.

“This should have been the second step.the first should have been ensuring there is a public transport system that can support half of Delhi’s population that drives on a single day,” Kakoli said.

“I am a single working woman, my car gives me the independence of movement, and to chose my working hours.If I cannot use my vehicle half of the month, what options do I have to fall back on,” she asked.

“There are couples who have two cars and have both odd and even number plates.Should I go looking for a partner with a different number plate.It is a compromise on my independence,” Kakoli maintained.

Shweta Arya, who works for a private firm, is not against using public transport but felt it was not an option if late working hours are involved.

“We cannot refuse work that spills over to late hours.If I am being asked not to use my car, what options are there? What if I need to go to hospital at a late hour? Or I have to go out of town.What are the options? ” she questioned.

Arya is however not all against the idea and suggests that the government should provide other options.

“The government must provide some options. For example if I am not using my car, there should be  a certain number of auto-rickshaws designated for our use, or there can be car pooling, the government needs to provide an alternative,” Arya told news agencies.

Ragini Jain, a home maker living in west Delhi, said while she is happy that it will mean reducing pollution, she also wondered how she will perform her day-to-day chores.

“There are numerous things to be done on a given day. Picking up children from school, getting groceries, managing a medical emergency since I have old parents at home, whom should I ask for help? Can anyone help you every day,” Jain asked.

“At the same time, I know some day we have to take a decision, for the sake of our children. Perhaps there is some more homework that needs to be done by the government,” she said.

A supportive voice, however, came from Divyani Garg, a doctor who found the idea good.

“its a good idea as per me. It’s a reasonable option to decrease the toxic levels of Delhi’s air pollution. I don’t mind the inconvenience as I am looking at the long-term benefits,” she said.

(IANS)

(Picture credit:www.huffingtonpost.in)

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Maharashtra’s climate action plan yielded disappointments

Broadly speaking, the plan discusses the impact of climate change on six sectors -- agriculture, water resources, health, forests and biodiversity, livelihoods, and energy and infrastructure.

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Climate action plans were not up to the mark. Pixabay
Climate action plans were not up to the mark. Pixabay
  • The Maharashtra climate action plan yields huge disappointments as it failed to recognize crucial issues in its implementation.
  • The issues like air pollution and damage through thunderstorms and lightening were ignored.
  • The plan only focused on six major factors.

Mumbai, Jan 1: Eight years after the Centre’s direction to formulate a state action plan on climate change, and seven years after awarding the contract for a comprehensive vulnerability assessment study, the Maharashtra cabinet has finally adopted a plan on climate change.

Titled ‘Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Strategies for Maharashtra: Maharashtra State Action Plan on Climate Change, and prepared by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), the action plan assesses vulnerability of the state to changing climate and outlines broad and ambitious strategies for building a climate-resilient future.

Rice Farm, Farming, Agriculture, Farm
Action plan focuses on 6 major factors, including agriculture. Pixabay

The action plan, built on high resolution modelling for which TERI entered into a partnership with the UK Met Office, projects changes in temperature and rainfall across the state at a resolution of about 25 km by 25 km for time periods 2030s, 2050s and 2070s — with the average climate during 1970-2000 as the model’s baseline.

An important component of the action plan is the Macro Level Vulnerability Index based on 19 indicators, which has identified the most vulnerable districts in Maharashtra: Nandurbar is the most climate change-vulnerable district, followed by Dhule and Buldhana. Satara is regarded as the least vulnerable district. Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg are also considered less vulnerable to changes in the climate. The state government has announced setting up a panel of experts to oversee the implementation of the report.

India, Mumbai, Bombay, Tourism
Issues related to thunderstorm and lightening were not taken into consideration. Pixabay

But, meteorologists and environment experts aren’t satisfied with the action plan. “The state has taken considerable time to come up with its adaptation plan on climate change. But the plan misses out on some crucial weather events, such as thunderstorm and lightning, that are linked to climatic changes. Air pollution, an important environment factor, is also missing from the plan,” said Akshay Deoras, Nagpur-based meteorologist.

Ashok Jaswal, former scientist with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune, stresses that an effective state action plan should include all direct and indirect climatic parameters.

“Air pollutants are aerosols and have their own different properties. Some are salt-based, whereas others are carbon-based, or dust, or smoke. Some reflect solar radiation, whereas others trap heat,” he said. “These aerosols influence cloud formation, rainfall and the overall climate, and must be a part of the state action plan on climate change.”

Broadly speaking, the plan discusses the impact of climate change on six sectors — agriculture, water resources, health, forests and biodiversity, livelihoods, and energy and infrastructure. It also makes projections for rainfall and temperature in the state; and assesses the future sea level rise. A section in the plan is dedicated to extreme rainfall, flooding and adaptation in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

The document shows that temperature and rainfall are projected to increase all over the state with some regional variations. Amravati division (Vidarbha region) and Aurangabad division (Marathwada region) are going to experience greater rise in annual mean temperatures than other parts of the state.

The projected increase in annual mean temperature for Amravati is expected to be 1.44-1.64 degree C, 2.2-2.35 degree C, and 3.06-3.46 degree C in 2030s, 2050s and 2070s, respectively. For the same time periods, the projected annual mean temperature increase for Aurangabad division is 1.44-1.56 degree C, 2.15-2.3 degree C, and 3.14-3.38 degree C, respectively. An increase in temperature is likely to lead to a decrease in yields for some crops, such as rice, sorghum and cotton.

Minimum temperature is also projected to increase, particularly in the divisions of Konkan, Pune and Nashik, which could have an adverse impact on crops sensitive to high night temperatures in the reproductive phase, such as grain growth in rice or tuberisation in potatoes, warns the state action plan.

The government's efforts came up short. Pixabay
The government’s efforts came up short. Pixabay

The action plan notes that an increase in temperature will be conducive to malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in eastern and coastal (Thane and Raigad regions) Maharashtra in 2030s. By the 2050s, a faster rate of parasite development will take place in Aurangabad, Jalna and Nashik districts.

Since a warmer atmosphere has a higher capacity to hold water vapour, it will lead to intense rainfall events with longer dry or low rainfall spells in between. Extreme rainfall is projected to increase in all regions of the state with greater increases in the northern parts of the state.

Meanwhile, parts of south-central Maharashtra are projected to experience more dry days in the 2030s as compared to the baseline. These districts of Marathwada are already prone to recurring droughts and infamous for farmers’ suicides.

“The findings… clearly describe the adverse impacts of climate change on all regions of the state. The report shows the worrying trend of an increase in extreme weather events and heavy precipitation days,” said Parineeta Dandekar, associate co-ordinator of the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People.

“Increased rainfall will lead to heavy flooding, which will have a direct bearing on the state’s water infrastructure. But, the action plan fails to elaborate upon ways to manage the water infrastructure in times of climate change.”

Lightning is listed as a state-specific disaster in Maharashtra, but the state action plan makes no mention of lightning, which is linked to climatic changes. “Rising temperature means more evaporation and high moisture content in the atmosphere, which leads to more thunderstorm activity and an increased incidence of lightning,” explained Jaswal.

A recent study, ‘Distribution of Lightning Casualities over Maharashtra’, has examined lightning deaths in the state between 1979 and 2011 and found 2,363 casualties from 455 lighting events. On an average 72 casualties per year have been reported with significant increasing trend.

“It is shocking that in spite of so many lives being lost each year due to lightning, the state action plan does not even mention the terms thunderstorm and lightning. Unless the plan acknowledges these weather events, how will the state government manage such disasters?” questioned Deoras.

The action plan does take note of the adverse impacts of hailstorm on horticulture crops in the state. For instance, it notes that hailstorms destroyed the grape crop in 2008-09. In 2010, almost 15 percent of the orange crop was destroyed due to rising heat and untimely hailstorm. But it fails to provide pointed information on ways to minimise impact on crops.

The action plan also makes no mention of air pollution. “Not including air pollution in the state climate action plan is a major drawback and the same must be rectified at the earliest,” said Jaswal.

Dandekar stresses on the need for translating action points into swift action. “The recommendations should not remain on paper, but must be included in the various state policies for immediate implementation,” she said. Deoras recommends setting up of a committee to reframe the action plan, by including the above-mentioned points, and then working towards the plan’s implementation by providing specific directions. IANS