Wednesday February 21, 2018

Rajiv Kakria’s letter to Delhi CM on odd even formula and curbing pollution

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Mr Rajiv Kakria is a well know civic activist. In this letter to Delhi Chief Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal, he takes a holistic look at the odd even formula and how to- at the same time- not ignore the other causative factors that result in pollution.

February 6, 2016

Dear Mr Kejriwal,

When Columbus set out in search of India, he ended up discovering America. ODD / EVEN challenge too has ended up discovering additional benefits.

While curbing pollution was the stated purpose of the ODD / EVEN Formula, many more benefits have accrued. App Based Pooling of Cars and Taxies will lead to 30% to 70% household savings on fuel. Less congestion on roads will surely lead to many Health benefits.

There are calls for extending the experiment and look to make it permanent. I too believe that the GOOD HABITS CULTIVATED during the fortnight long experiment should not be wasted and the Odd / Even Formula should be implemented periodically.

The success of the Program should not be taken for Granted: We need to analyze what REALLY MADE IT SUCCESSFUL? 

  1. CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS – Private Cars ferrying children to schools were off the roads, as were the teachers driving to work. The additional buses added to the Fleet for Public were School Buses.
  2. EXEMPTIONS TO TWO-WHEELERS AND WOMEN – The Public Transport would not have been able to take the additional load nor does the Police evoke confidence of security to women.
  3. PUBLIC SUPPORT – Citizens were willing to support as they realise the gravity of the problem and knew the inconvenience was for a short spell of 15 days, effectively 6-7 days.
  4. CIVIL DEFENCE VOLUNTEERS AND CHILDREN – The Government Machinery is woefully inadequate and the efforts of volunteers must be applauded but cannot be relied in the long term.
  5. SDM’S AND TRANSPORT OFFICIALS HELPED THE POLICE – The very fact that more fines were imposed by SDMs and not the Police, shows that additional officials on the roads contributed in a big way, which may not be the case on a regular basis, as they have other duties to perform.

The way Forward:  PREPARE A THREE YEAR CIVIC ROADMAP (Short, Medium and Long Term), with clear deadlines with the help of Data Collected and Additional Surveys:-

 SHORT TERM Measures:

  1. DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DYNAMIC AND DEAD PARKING – Discourage people who use cars for Home-Office-Home travel, turning scarce Parking Space unproductive (Dead) for 8-14 hours. Shoppers and Visitors to offices for meetings etc occupy Parking Space (Dynamic) for a limited period of time and the same space is utilised multiple times, giving a fillip to Business. DEAD PARKING should be discouraged and made prohibitive. DYNAMIC PARKING Rates should be of 15 Minute Pulse, to encourage people to conclude business promptly and save money.
  2. PARKING FEE BASED ON SIZE OF CAR – To encourage the use of small cars Parking Fee should be charged based on length of the car, as one BMW occupies twice as much space as an i10 car.
  3. INTRODUCE POINT TO POINT AC CHARTERED/SHUTTLE BUSSES – Care should be taken that Office goers are not inconvenienced and transport BEFITTING THEIR STATURE be made available at reasonable rates. People use Personal Transport out of compulsion due to lack of COMFORTABLE, SAFE & SURE TRANSPORT.
  4. STOP FLEECING BY AUTO/ TAXIS AND SURGE PRICING BY UBER / OLA: Autos have been notorious for Refusals and Overcharging. Now Uber and Ola are also fleecing hapless commuters, charging 1.5X to 3.9X SURGE PRICING. If citizens can be fined Rs. 2000/- then Service providers should also be penalised for Malpractice. INTRODUCE UNIFORM PRICING.
  5. ENFORCE LANE DISCIPLINE – Traffic Police should be instructed to enforce Lane Discipline and man Traffic Lights instead of hiding behind trees to net offenders and pocket bribes.
  6. REMOVE BOTTLE NECKS ON ROADS – Potholes; Encroachments/Vendors; Parking on Roads; Religious Places; Trees; Defunct Poles etc. create congestion and slows the traffic.

MEDIUM TERM Measures:

  1. CREATE HALTING ZONES FOR AUTOS, GRAMIN SEVAS, TAXIS ETC Traffic Jams are often noticed near Bus Stops/Metro Stations, Traffic Signals, Market/Hospital Entrances, Street Corners etc as these modes of transport bunch up at such spots usurping one or more lanes.
  2. IMPROVE LAST MILE CONNECTIVITY  – This proposal has been in the Pipeline for so long that it seems like a Pipedream, surely it is not as difficult as it seems.
  3. PUT THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE – Multiple modes of Public Transport adhering to a strict timetable be introduced in consultation with experts.
  4. CREATE SUBWAYS AND PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS Lack of pedestrian facilities make the roads dangerous and are the cause for traffic snarls, when people give up private transport there will be a manifold increase in Pedestrian Traffic, so this aspect MUST GET PRIORITY.
  5. INSTALL NUMBER PLATE READING CCTVS – E-Chalaan traffic offenders and Trucks who enter the city before Entry Hours (which is Rampant).

 LONG TERM Measures:

  1. IMPROVE ROAD ENGINEERING AND POSITIONING OF BUS STOPS – Go anywhere in Delhi, most traffic jams occur at the start and end of a Flyover, due to merging traffic and positioning of bus stops close to the Flyover.
  2. EXPEDITE COURT CASES FOR ROAD WIDENING Ring Road at Nariana is a good example of what can be achieved by acquiring land for road widening …… there are many such points all over Delhi that are stuck in Court Cases.
  3. BAN PURCHASE OF VEHICLE (PRIVATE OR COMMERCIAL) WITHOUT PROOF OF PARKING SPACE Introduce differential Fee Structure for parking on Public Land with a percentage increase for 2nd, 3rd, 4th Vehicle Registered per Dwelling Unit instead of per family member. THE RECENT HIGH COURT RULING RESTRICTING ONE PARKING SLOT PER DWELLING UNIT IS WORTH EMULATING FOR EQUITABLE USE OF PUBLIC SPACES. Fleet owners should create own Parking Zones instead of using up public spaces.
  4. INTRODUCE FIRST CLASS COMPARTMENTS ON METRO – Airlines, Trains, Busses, Mumbai Suburban all have 1st Class compartments.

I have restricted my suggestions to Road Congestion Solutions. Once the Short and Medium Term targets are met, then the exemptions given to Women and Two Wheelers can be withdrawn. Till then ODD / EVEN Formula should be imposed during school vacations or every alternate month for one week, to keep the momentum going.

I congratulate you on the success of the first experiment and for constantly being open to suggestions. Finally, pollution too will be curbed through collective effort and going after THE REAL POLLUTERS, ie, Dust, Trucks, Generators, Waste Burning, etc.

Warm Regards,

Rajiv Kakria

New Delhi

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Copyright 2016 NewsGram

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Air Pollution And Its Effects On Our Heath

Man is not just affected physically but his mental peace takes a toll too due to the increasing air pollution

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Stubble burning is one of the main reason behind heavy pollution in the Delhi and NCR region. Wikimedia Commons
  • Air pollution is a major concern nowadays and has major effects on one’s health
  • There are many toxic air pollutants in our environment which can cause severe health hazards
  • Health-related problems like asthma, headaches, nausea, etc. can be caused as an effect of air pollution

Air Pollution and their dreadful consequences are not some newly found phenomena of the new-found world. There have been instances of hazardous effects even in the past. The three major historic documentation, dating back to the middle of the 20th century, happened at Meuse Valley in Belgium, Donora in Pennsylvania, and London. The most gruesome of the three is the well-known London mishap that claimed over 4000 lives during the episode, due to temperature inversion and associated elevated levels of Air Pollution, and over 8000 lives in the subsequent period.

Air pollution can have severe effects on one's health.
Air pollution can have severe effects on one’s health.

Mankind is in a fast-paced race, always in the process of trying to outwit each other. The numerous developments born out of this race have brought along with them dreadful health consequences. Air Pollution is one such inadvertent yet a disregardful act by humans. The pollution does not begin only when you step out of your homes but is present within your safety havens itself.

According to the World Health Organization report in 2014, 92% of the world population was living in places where the air quality guidelines levels were not met. Outdoor Air Pollution was cited to be the cause of  3.7 million premature deaths in both cities and rural areas. Around 80% of those deaths were due to heart diseases and stroke, and the rest were due to respiratory illnesses and cancers due to exposure to fine particulate matter.

Air pollution can even cause risk of life.
Air pollution can even cause risk of life.
Air pollutants categories:

Air pollutants are categorized into two groups based on their impact, Criteria pollutants and Toxic air pollutants. Criteria pollutants include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and lead (Pb). (defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the Clean Air Act). These pollutants are present everywhere and cause health issues when present at significant ambient levels. In general, the criteria pollutants are regarded as the cause of most respiratory and cardiac issues.

Also Read: How exposure to air pollution in womb may shorten lifespan

Toxic air pollutants are also known as “hazardous air pollutants,” are substances that cause cancer or lead to other potential non-cancerous effects on the reproductive and neurological systems and have disastrous consequences in the development process. It is also assumed that there is no threshold level of exposure required to cause cancer. Meaning any amount of exposure to these toxic pollutants can lead to cancer.

At risk Populations:

In any geography, the already ailing and sick (pre-existing medical condition) population is more at risk for suffering from the ill effects of air pollution. Apart from this category, young children are the next at risk.

The reason for children being affected more is that they have higher breathing rates than adults. Therefore, they unknowingly inhale a lot more pollutants than an average adult. The potential for exposure is also increased with increased amount of time spent outdoors. The developing lungs of the young people have a limited metabolic capacity to placate toxicity.

Exposure to air pollutants can case cancer as well.
Exposure to air pollutants can cause cancer as well.

 

Air Pollution Respiratory Diseases:

The small particulate matter of the criteria pollutants has the capacity to reach the lowest portion of the lungs, where the gaseous exchange occurs. The larger particles get trapped in the nose and the medium- sized ones settle in the tracheobronchial region.

The effects of the settlement of these particles are upper and lower respiratory symptoms, asthma attacks, loss of quality living days, and restricted activities. Chronic exposure to particulate matter has also been associated with the development of chronic bronchitis- inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. This condition presents as a cough with mucus.

Also Read: Neurologists say rising air pollution can cause stroke among adults

Lung Cancer:

It is a commonly known fact and an “ought to be stressed upon” fact that chronic exposure to polluted air can also lead to the cancer of the lungs.

Ozone’s effect:

Ozone, an oxidant gas that is poorly water-soluble, travels throughout the respiratory tract due to its nature of solubility. It reacts with the molecules on the surface of the lung and leads to pulmonary oedema, inflammation, and the destruction of epithelial cells that line the respiratory tract. Children who stay outdoors in high Ozone areas develop asthma. Some of the disastrous effects are permanent in nature.

Air pollution can harm you even when you are inside your own houses.
Air pollution can harm you even when you are inside your own houses.
Some more Criteria air pollutants:

When Carbon monoxide reacts with blood haemoglobin, it reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and hence can cause damage to the nervous system. It causes a headache, fatigue, dizziness, coma, respiratory failure, and eventually death.

Nitrogen dioxide is mostly an indoor air pollutant released due to the increasing use of gas stoves. Exposure to high levels of nitrogen dioxide can lead to respiratory distress with symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.

Air Pollution Cardiovascular Effects:

The above-mentioned actions of air pollutants in the respiratory tract can also affect the cardiovascular system. The inflammation in the breathing tract induces transient hypercoagulability (abnormal blood clotting), the progression of atherosclerosis, and propensity to plaque rupture, especially in people with coronary atheroma. Long-term exposure to Air Pollution can also speed up the atherogenesis process, heart rate invariability, and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Some recent studies have also found a significant relationship between heart attack (Myocardial infarction) and exposure to polluted air.

Air Pollution in Reproductive and Child Health:

Long-term exposure to the air pollutants poses risks even to an unborn child. It causes Intrauterine growth restriction -low birth weight at term, intrauterine growth retardation, smaller fetus for gestational age etc.

Indoor Air Pollution :

Some of the major causes of indoor air pollution are indoor smoking and burning of fuels for cooking purposes, especially in the second and third world countries. The people in these countries cook and heat their homes with biomass fuels and coal. Thus the main noxious gas released is sulfur dioxide, that causes respiratory issues and eye irritation

 

In Delhi, air pollution is a major concern.
In Delhi, air pollution is a major concern.
Quality of life:

Man is not just affected physically but his mental peace takes a toll too when the feelings of insecurity and the perception of having to live in a hazardous environment take over. Severe annoyance, sleep disturbances, reduced the ability to concentrate, communicate or perform normal daily tasks also accompany the psychological stress issues.

Some of the issues are too massive to be controlled at an individual level but a resolution to change can, of course, make a significant impact. Individually we are just one drop of water but together we can make a big ocean.

Simple steps involve following the government regulations in your state regarding the upkeep of your vehicles, carpooling, avoiding the burning of coal, adequate ventilation of your homes to dilute the effect of indoor air pollutants among others.

Wish for a change? Be the change! Same Condition

Air Pollution Health Effects