- New Delhi and Beijing used to be on the same level as far as their pollution levels were concerned.
- But while Beijing has made strides in its fight to combat pollution, Delhi’s air quality continues to deteriorate.
- China has been using a string of conventional measures, which can be also be adopted in India.
Until 2013, New Delhi and Beijing were at par in terms if their air pollution levels.
The Chinese capital was blanketed by pollution in 2012, with 1 million people killed by a record-breaking air quality index of 755 , while Delhi had 153 annual concentration of PM 2.5.
But while the Chinese government has been able to successfully curtail the problem in recent years,reporting a fall of 35% in air pollution levels in 2017, India’s capital region continues to choke due to smog and air pollution.
Here are some lessons that New Delhi can learn from Beijing in its bid to tackle air pollution:
Introducing an emergency action plan
The first step taken by the Chinese government was to introduce the ‘Action Plan on Prevention and Control of Air Pollution’ in 2013.
The government policy aimed at identifying major polluted regions and making it a priority to tackle pollution in those regions. The approach included setting a target to bring down pollution to a certain level in the regions of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. The recently revised policy of 2018 has more plans of similar nature.
In contrast, the Indian government’s efforts, including the Graded Response Action Plan and odd-even scheme, have been unable to solve the problem. A stricter three-year policy similar to China might help India in implementing norms against pollution.
Curbing coal consumption
After setting up a target to reduce coal consumption by 18 million tonnes by 2020, Beijing substituted its four major coal-fire stations with natural gas plants to promote renewable energy. It also imposed stricter norms on industries emitting toxic gases which contribute to pollution. Beijing either shut down 1200 polluting factories in 2016.
Meanwhile, coal consumption in India continues to rise. Further, a recent media report revealed that the Indian coal industry has had to import 164 million tons of coal in 2018 to maintain the demand in the country.
Use of mist cannons to purify air
Mist cannons are an effective way to mitigate the risk of respiratory and lung problems. The dust-controlling machine releases small particles into the air, which forces air pollutants and dust to fall down to the earth in a form similar to rain drops.
This technology was initially developed to swipe away dust in the steel, coal and cement industries. Chinese authorities have been using mist cannons in their ‘red-zones’ to fight pollution and it has worked well. India can take a page out of this book.
Promoting clean-energy public transport
Around 1,350 public buses, which run on clean energy, have been introduced in China over the past three years. The country has also prohibited vehicles that cause air pollution from entering Beijing. China is also focusing on boosting atomic energy and renewable energy resources.
Meanwhile, vehicular pollution in itself constitutes one-third of the total pollution in the National Capital Region, and India has no such measures in place.