8 in 10 Delhi NCR residents surveyed believe neither Delhi nor Punjab Government are taking action to address toxic air issues; Want actionable plans put in place to address stubble burning, vehicular pollution and road dust
- ● 60% Delhi NCR residents want authorities to implement mechanized road and street cleaning and ensure mandatory covering of all construction sites each year during October-December
- ● 77% Delhi NCR residents also want Punjab Government to ensure sufficient seeding equipment availability at Panchayat level, create awareness against stubble burning directly and via religious leaders and start a free stubble pick up service
- ● People demanding action from Delhi and Punjab Governments now so come October-November the air is less toxic than previous years
June 5, 2023, New Delhi: Every year in late October, Delhi NCR is enveloped in smog and “very severe” air pollution due to a host of reasons including stubble burning in Punjab along with local vehicular pollution, road dust, garbage burning and several other reasons. The air quality in Delhi NCR and most of North India is in hazardous or severe category during the period when farmers are clearing up their fields between Oct 20th and Nov 20th but the AQI levels stay high till mid-December as a host of other factors drive up PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels.
On the occasion of World Environment Day 2023, LocalCircles decided to understand over the last couple of months their understanding about actions being taken by the Delhi and Punjab Government in regard to the toxic air issue and what needs to be done by them in the coming months so we have cleaner air come October. The survey received over 29,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 69% respondents were men while 31% respondents were women.
8 in 10 Delhi NCR residents surveyed believe neither Delhi nor Punjab Government have taken any action to address toxic air root causes
The first question in the survey asked residents of Delhi NCR about actions taken in the last 8 months since last pollution season. It asked respondents” whether the Delhi and Punjab Government according to their knowledge and understanding have done anything since October – November 2022 to address root causes for toxic air like stubble burning, vehicular pollution, road dust, etc?” In response 80% of the respondents said “No” while just 10% said that some actions have been taken by Delhi Government. No one said that the Punjab Government has done anything to address the root causes. 10% of the respondents did not know. Overall, 10,005 responses were received on the question.
Delhi Government claims to have 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. This project is to be scaled up to cover all the pollution hotspots in the national capital this year. While piloting these solutions is a good beginning, unless they are scaled rapidly, they are not likely to provide any meaningful solutions come October-November.
60% Delhi NCR respondents want Government to mandatorily implement mechanized road and street cleaning and require that all construction sites be covered during October-December
The survey then sought suggestions from Delhiites about “what all initiatives should be put in place immediately to significantly reduce air pollution in Delhi during Oct-Dec 2023?” Some among the 9,944 who responded to this query opted for more than one suggestion with 80% indicating “detailed plan to drive stubble burning in Punjab to near zero levels”, and 80% mooting that “waste management and anti-waste burning enforcement plan” to ensure near zero waste burning in the national capital. Apart from these two steps, 60% desired “mandatory mechanized road and street cleaning by October to minimize spread of dust”; 60% want “mandatory covering of all construction sites each year during October-December”; 40% desire “plan to reduce vehicles on Delhi roads by 50% during October-December”; and 20% wanted other initiatives. However, 20% of respondents felt none of the above initiatives will help address the issue of high air pollution. 9,944 responses were received on this question from residents of Delhi and NCR cities.
55% surveyed believe awareness drive with the help of religious and community organisations about the stubble burning ban and its enforcement will help reduce it; 34% want focus on seeder availability and stubble pick up service
The survey in the final question focused on actions in Punjab and asked respondents, “What initiative(s) should be the primary focus of the Punjab government to address the problem of stubble burning?” Of the 9,851 Delhi NCR residents who responded to this query, 55% believe awareness by religious and community organisations and the Punjab government about stubble burning ban and its enforcement will help reduce such practice. Data shows that Delhi NCR want Punjab government to step up efforts to create awareness about harmful effects of stubble burning and enforce the ban more stringently; 22% want Punjab government to ensure enough seeding equipment is available at very panchayat so that there is no compulsion on farmers to hasten the harvest process 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.
In summary, 80% of Delhi NCR residents currently believe that the Delhi and Punjab Government haven’t done much since the last pollution season towards resolving the root causes of pollution. While 80% of them believe that the issue of stubble burning must be addressed on the highest priority, 60% of them also want mechanized cleaning equipment and mandatory covering of construction sites during the months of October-December. 55% of the respondents in the survey believe that awareness drives with farmers must be conducted through religious and community organisations in Punjab along with enforcement. 22% believe the solution lies in having sufficient seeders available at the level of every Panchayat while 12% see hope in having a free stubble pickup service for the farmers. Overall, residents of Delhi NCR believe it is high time that both Delhi and Punjab Governments start working on this issue on mission mode having not done much in the last 7 months.
LocalCircles will escalate the findings of this survey with the State Governments of Delhi and Punjab and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India.
The survey received over 29,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram & Faridabad. 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.