Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ

The cities of Delhi and Beijing share a dubious honor as the world’s most-polluted capitals. But their response to dangerous levels of air pollution separates them.

Earlier this week, Beijing for the first time issued a red-alert for pollution, triggered when authorities forecast air-quality levels above 300 for at least three consecutive days.

On China’s government index, a measure of overall air quality, the maximum reading of 500, is described by the government as “severely polluted.” The Chinese administration immediately sent cars off the roads, shut factories and urged schools to close.

In Delhi, where air was similarly dirty, life went on as normal. The starkly different responses prompted some in the Indian capital to question why their government wasn’t taking Beijing-style measures to combat the smog. For sure, plans are underway in India to tackle the capital’s filthy air.

On Friday, Delhi’s government announced it would impose restrictions on the number of cars on its roads from Jan.1. Residents in the Indian city can look up air-pollution data on the website of The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, known as Safar, which uses data collected at 10 locations in the city. On that index, air quality in the city regularly hits “very poor” conditions when levels of PM 2.5 — insidious particles in the air including dirt, soot, smoke and liquid droplets — spike.

These tiny particles are thought to be particularly dangerous because they can lodge deeply in the lungs and cause inflammation, infection and lead to diseases including cancer. Readings on the Safar monitor are calibrated from “good” to “severe.” The Delhi Pollution Control Committee also publishes raw pollution data but doesn’t give qualitative readings alongside.

The U.S. Embassy, which measures pollution on monitors at its compound in the capital and around the country, warns the very young and elderly to remain indoors whenever air quality becomes what it calls hazardous. But none of the readings currently trigger alerts, or responsive action, by Delhi’s government. That’s because India is a democracy, said Ashwani Kumar, chairman of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, an arm of the state government.

China, of course, is a one-party state. The idea that alerts should tell people to stay indoors when smog hits was  “absurd,” Mr. Kumar added, and people “should decide for themselves what to do with the pollution information.” However, he said the Delhi Pollution Control Committee does plan to introduce an app so that information is available to residents with smartphones. Less than 10% of Indians own a smartphone. It also proposes to install around 70 big screens in strategic locations around the city advising residents what they can do to reduce pollution, Mr. Kumar added. The idea of an environmental alert system is not alien to India.

Source: Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ


5 Comments to “Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution – China Real Time Report – WSJ”

  1. Why Delhi Doesn’t Have a Beijing-Style Response to Pollution —I have read this news with interest!

    I think the answer is within the news- piece, read carefully once again!


    • Ramesh – suing democracy to excuse in-action is not good enough, in my view.


      • Charles-I note your view (above), I think your view is inappropriate!


          • Charles-I shall try to give the reason why I found your view is inappropriate…

            Well, the cities of Delhi and Beijing share a dubious honour as the world’s most polluted capitals—as stated in the news!
            But the action taken by the administrators in two cities are different.

            China which is governed by one-party state, it is easier to tell people stay indoors, close schools, shut factories and sent cars off the roads. Because, no questions raised. Full stop!

            In Indian Capital (Delhi), though the air was similarly dirty, a different approach to tackle this problem In a Democratic System, the government job is to inform, advise and educate the people, but it is for the people to decide themselves what to do with the information. Of course, people are free to ask/challenge the information and advice given by the relevant authorities.

            So, It is not an excuse in-action (in the name of suing democracy) but the way things are done in a ‘Democratic System’ where anyone can challenge the authorities.

            With the above note, I would End this ping-pong game!


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