When the Delhi government announced the Odd-Even rule in 2016, the scheme caught the attention of the entire nation on how horrible the air pollution was in the major cities of India.
Delhi crossed the red alert category with the Supreme Court ordering a ban on bursting crackers as the air quality worsened.
Every year Delhi has been fighting this increasing menace, also closing educational institutions and other establishments. Such was the situation that Delhi was ranked among the top five most polluted cities in the world according to the World Air Quality Report 2019 compiled by IQAir Visual.
The world is growing and India much faster. Cities are expanding so is the population, leading to an exponential growth in industrialisation, concretisation and transportation. These have been a major cause for not just Delhi but cities all over India. Ghaziabad, Navi Mumbai, Lucknow, Amritsar, Patna, Jodhpur and to the corner of India, Vishakapatnam have also recorded an increase in air pollution.
A look at the names of cities which have not had industrial or population growth but still recording the poor air quality indicates there are other reasons that are contributing to air pollution.
Hyderabad, which has entered into the big league of top five cities for the economic potential it has been displaying, is a destination for investments with all sorts of reputed business leaders expanding their units. The population is on the rise, the city has expanded to other new corners with real estate venturing into new arenas. But Hyderabad is nowhere near the list of polluted cities as the air quality has been remarkably improving making it a safer and healthier place for people to breathe.
According to the World Air Quality Report ranking the top polluted cities in the world, Hyderabad was ranked 249th in the world and 68th in India. It is to be noted that India is the fifth most polluted country in the world. The recent reply in the Lok Sabha to parliamentarian Pratap Rao Jadhav regarding the most-polluted cities in the country, the Minister of State (Environment, Forest and Climate Change) released a list of polluted cities in which Hyderabad was rated much better than important cities like Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Allahabad, Jaipur, Amritsar, Patna, Lucknow, Noida, Dehradun, Kolkata, Bhopal.
Government of Telangana’s pet initiative of Haritha Haram cannot be ignored for the tremendous results. Besides extensive campaigns, the plantation of saplings and their maintenance is thoroughly pursued with the green budget allotted to the programme. People have voluntarily taken up plantation drives.
Since Telangana was formed, Hyderabad has seen a sea change in growth, for instance, the Metro Rail services have been extended to 56 km already. With an average of 2.3 million people taking the Hyderabad Metro every day, there is presumably a reduction in vehicular pollution. The HMR’s maintenance is too laudable, the greens they have planted and the way they are ensuring their upkeep.
Telangana has a boon in its Municipal Minister KT Rama Rao, who advocates increasing the green cover across the city and implements it. The GHMC has increased the number of urban parks across the city and on the suburbs besides maintaining them well. Environment lovers and the general public, irrespective of their age groups, have been frequenting these urban parks which also have amenities such as cycling tracks.
Importantly, infrastructure in these parks was made out of waste etc. Urban parks such as Bhagyanagar Nandanavanam Park, Shantivanam Park, Palapitta Cycling Park, Kandlakoya Oxygen Park, Prashanthivanam Park and Panchavati Forest Park are spread widely in acres creating major lung spaces.
Many mouthpieces with vested political interests may not lose an opportunity to criticise whenever there is a cloudburst ignoring the fact that almost all cities are facing worse pooling of water, thanks to the encroachment of cities and improper drainage system and town planning decades ago. There is less to repair leaving no choice but to come up with new ideas to tackle climate change. If we notice that when the rains lashed the city for four consecutive days, we did not see any waterlogging.
The government has made sure that innovative methods replace if serious issues have to be taken care of. Erstwhile governments permitted industries which let out harmful chemicals into the air but the Government of Telangana has been restricting their permissions besides moving the existing ones in the city beyond the Outer Ring Road.
The least people would want is to breathe clean and safe air. Parliament has given its answer on which city is standing where in giving its citizens the best air to live. Keeping in mind the worst situations in cities in the rest of India and the world, it’s important to maintain the track record of good figures. We all should carry on the good work such as Haritha Haram which is yielding results.
(The author is the Convenor, Social Media wing of TRS)
Now you can get hand picked stories from Telangana Today on Telegram everyday. Click the link to subscribe.