DELHI: CAPITAL OF INDIA (Human Climatic Change)

Delhi is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, its population ranging from 400,000 in 1901 to 18.6 million as of 2019. And the Climatic Change brought in by Human in intolerable. But all lives are at stake here. The air that citizens breath is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes and it is getting worse. Various reasons being and, obviously humans are to blame here, the burning of rice subtles by farmers in the nearby states are accounted for the condition in Delhi. The states surrounding Delhi are Uttar Pradesh in the East and Haryana in the West. Approximately 35 million tons of crops are burned which has resulted in the poor air quality index of Delhi. But it only contributes about 5 to 7 per cent of the pollution. And how can one forget about the population’s contribution to the pollution in Delhi? As winter sets in, the air gets stagnated and there is no free flow of air which results in non– dispersion the pollutants get stuck into the air forming thick smog inducing Climatic Chnages caused by the Human theself.

The population can sole-handily bring down the air quality of a place, reasons being, more population equals to more private cars and transports. Vehicle emission is one of the major causes of Delhi pollution which is why the government had proposed the Odd-Even scheme. This scheme was first introduced in January 2016, from 1st to 15th and later again in April, 15th to 30th in the same year. The anti-pollution measures had to launch the scheme again on November 4th, 2019, because the city’s AQI had reached “severe” quality. As of the present date, the AQI shows a slight relief. But only for now. From the very first day, the scheme had resulted in a marginal dip of pollutants in the air. This rule allows cars with odd registered numbers to be driven on odd days, and even registered numbers on even days, very efficiently reducing the traffic menace and showing a significantly small difference.

“Strong winds on Saturday abated the smog lingering over Delhi-NCR for the last four days, resulting in a decline in pollution levels. The air quality index of the national capital read 357 at 4 pm on Saturday, around 100 notches less than Friday’s AQI. The suburbs of Ghaziabad (347), Greater Noida (309), Gurgaon (360), Faridabad (358) and Noida (338) also recorded a dip in pollution levels.” – An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

Another main cause is construction sites. The Badarpur Thermal Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built-in 1973. Even though it produces less than 8% of the city’s electric power, it produces 80 to 90% of the particulate matter pollution from the electric power sector in Delhi. During the Great Smog of Delhi in November 2017, the Badarpur Power Plant was temporarily shut down to revive fresh, breathable air, but was allowed to restart on 1 February 2018. Because of the deteriorating effect on the environment, the power plant has been permanently shut down since 15 October 2018.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has announced a list of guidelines for residents of Delhi to follow to deal with the smog that includes staying indoors for most part of the day recommending to walk out only in the evening, avoiding any physical activity because they include a lot of inhalation of air, wearing masks with respirators, sharing rides with friends and relatives so that it diminishes the amount of vehicle emission, and many more.

Even though the Government is taking steps at making the weather in Delhi pollutant-free, it has already taken a toll on the citizens there.

“According to a PTI report, hospitals in Delhi have seen a sudden spike in the number of patients reporting with respiratory and breathing complications.” – Severe air pollution can cause burning sensations in the eyes, can promote breathing and respiratory diseases, asthma problems and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and besides affecting lungs, high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere cause inflammation in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of arteries which can act as a trigger for stroke or heart attack in persons, already at risk of the disease. – AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria.

TAJ MAHAL (Human Climatic Change)

Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent architectural works of the Mughal Empire. It was built by Shah Jahan in the name of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The monument is made of white marble giving it a breath-taking view. It is situated in Agra and is a tourist spot that attracts nearly 7 million people each year. UNESCO declared this site as a World Heritage in 1983.

But even this monument has stepped into human’s design and is tearing and falling apart.

Turns out Taj is not “Wah!” anymore.

The beautiful white marble has a tinge of yellow and in some places, it is so corroded that it has turned almost brown. One would wonder how did this happen?

Well, pollutants in the air are quite efficient at their work and they never let people down! The foundries, chemical industries, refineries are the major cause for such deterioration of the Taj. And it’s not just the monument but the whole Taj Trapezium Zone that stretches to 10,400 sq. km. In, 1984, the matter was first noticed by M.C. Mehta, a public interest lawyer who filed a writ petition called “Report on Environmental Impact of Mathura Refiner” (Vardharajan Committee.) The argument held that the gases emitted by these industries contains Sulphur – dioxide and when they combine with oxygen in the air turns into acid rain, which is the primary cause of the corroding effect. The Supreme Court did reach to a conclusion after hearing the arguments that the main sources of pollution are iron foundries, Ferro – alloyed industries, rubber processing, lime processing, engineering, chemical industries, brick refractory and vehicles. The Court also issued the U.P Pollution Control Board to issue a notice to all the industries to take necessary anti-pollution measures. But to what extent would that help?

The Court has very profoundly relied on the “Precautionary Principle” and “The Polluter Pays Principle.”

Now, precautionary principles? Alright! It’s needed. The industries do need to use natural gases instead of fuel. They do need to install air filters and use ONG to mitigate air pollution in the region. But why the polluter pays principle? This is a monument we’re talking about, not river or air that has self-cleaning abilities, it’s a monument! It does not have reversible effects. How can the polluter pay for his emitting pollutants and reverse the Taj back to its glory?

Eventually, every single being in India has to pay for what has been done. 50 years from now people will know that Taj Mahal was made of “breathtaking” and “magnificent” yellow marble that has various brown and black spots to give it a toned-up look. After all Shah Jahan did build the monument for his beloved wife!

SIACHEN GLACIER (Human Climatic Change)

Located at the eastern Karakoram range, the Siachen Glacier is and has been for a long time an important source of fresh water for both India and Pakistan. It is situated at the LoC (Line of Control) which significantly marks the ceasefire line between the two countries after the 1947 – 1948 war. The glacier is in the interests of both India and Pakistan and has the Indian troops stationed on the upper part and Pakistani troops stationed on the lower part.

 Siachen being the coldest battlefield in the world, with the temperature dropping as low as -50 degree Celsius, the only fuel used to cook food and making water from ice is kerosene. The most significant point to be mentioned of this all is that the amount of trash generated at Siachen stays in Siachen. All these years, since the army troops have been stationed, it has stayed there with no attempt at gathering and collecting it back because the trek between the base camp and the glacier takes about 4 days itself. So, all the trash that apparently includes empty cardboard boxes, metal containers, jerry cans and juice cartons either ends up going into the Siachen river, which is also a tributary of River Indus, and the rest is probably the reason for the formation of such deathly crevasses (a deep ocean crack, especially one in the glacier). The militarization has inflicted a lot of damage by building pipelines, drainage, human wastes and construction which sometimes even resulted in chemical leakages.

Why blame only global warming here, when the country’s citizens are at work in destroying the most conflicted zone on the planet?

Building cantonments, base-camps, training schools, aviation workshops and huge ammunition stores for what? Because the Indian army believes it is a “strategic advantage” over China and Pakistan. What about the fact that this very “strategic advantage” is perhaps resulting in the melting of the glacier? What about the fact that since India and Pakistan signed the ceasefire agreement on November 2003, maximum casualties have been due to climate change. Pakistan lost 353 soldiers in various operations recorded between 2003 to 2010 near Siachen, out of which 135 Pakistani soldiers died due to the Gayari Sector Avalanche in 2012. In 2010 the Indian Army notified that 33 soldiers were washed away in flash floods. In fact, from April 1984 to December 2015, 869 soldiers have died due to climatic conditions as per official data from the government of India.

And if the glacier melts, with all the waste down with it, the country suffering more will be Pakistan because Siachen River is the main source to the Nubra River which joins the Shyok River which finally joins the Indus River providing for millions of acres of cultivated land.

It will be wrong to not mention that no measures have been taken. In 1989, when the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Islamabad, India and Pakistan did reach an agreement but was later rejected by the Indian Army due to national security. Later in 2005, the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, proposed to turn the Siachen region into a Peace Park. He got backlashed with mockery, “cynics suggest that he, too, has become a victim of the Nobel Peace Prize syndrome, trapped by the desire of temporary personal applause at the cost of national interests. It is his ticket to history.” It was the aftermath of Gayari avalanche that the “Peace Park” was given a momentum.

“Tourists may soon be able to visit the world’s highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier.”

That is a precautionary step that is of utmost demand and it should have been done a long time back. Even though the Siachen is partly being demilitarized and is made a Tourist Spot, it will take decades before it can walk back to its natural self. The Glacier is already thin and thinning as we know it and it will strike thousands of lives if not reversed back to its former nature.

REALITY CHECK (Human Climatic Change)

The damage that has been done over the past century is unforgivable and it might not come as a surprise if any time now, mother nature decides to restore balance and wash out the filth that has induced Climatic Change by Human. Or maybe humans are the filth that needs to be washed.