With Delhi-NCR region facing severe air pollution, especially during October, due to stubble burning in Punjab along with local vehicular pollution, a survey was conducted to understand actions taken by the respective governments over the last couple of months on the toxic air issue.
On World Environment Day, the survey asked residents of Delhi-NCR about actions taken in the last eight months by the Punjab and Delhi governments to address the issue of toxic air, 80% replied in negative, while 10% said they have seen changes being done by the authorities, and others refused to say.
The Delhi government had said it has implemented a 15-point action plan and a proactive Graded Response Action Plan to ensure that winter months this year are not as bad as in 2022.
Environment minister Gopal Rai told media in February that the AAP government in Punjab will scale up the use of bio-decomposer, a microbial solution which can turn paddy straw into manure in around three weeks. He had also pointed out that the Delhi government is conducting a pilot study to assess the impact of anti-air pollution steps taken at Anand Vihar, one of the 13 pollution hotspots in Delhi.
When asked from Delhiites whether all initiatives should be put in place immediately to reduce air pollution during October 2023, 80% suggested a “detailed plan to drive stubble burning in Punjab to near zero levels” and 80% mooted “waste management and anti-waste burning enforcement plan” to ensure zero waste burning in Delhi.
Besides, 60% desired “mandatory mechanised road and street cleaning by October to reduce spread of dust”; 60% want “covering of all construction sites each year during October-December”; 40% indicate “plan to reduce vehicles on Delhi roads by 50% during October-December”; and 20% wanted other initiatives. However, 20% of respondents said none of the above initiatives will help address the issue of high air pollution.
When asked what initiatives should be the primary focus of the Punjab government to address the problem of stubble burning, 55% believe awareness by religious and community organisations and the Punjab government about stubble burning ban and its enforcement will help reduce such practice.
Nearly 22% want the Punjab government to ensure enough seeding equipment is available in every panchayat so that there is no compulsion on farmers to hasten the harvest and ready the fields for sowing the next crop; 12% want the government to start a free stubble pick up service. However, 11% of the respondents are pessimistic that any of the above steps will not help resolve the stubble burning problem.
The survey received over 29,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad. Nearly 69% respondents were men while 31% respondents were women. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.