Avoiding an 'Airpocalypse' – India’s war on air pollution

Crop burning in Punjab: rural burning of residues contributes 45 per cent of Delhi's air pollution in peak months. (Credit: Neil Palmer)

Fires from crop stubble are burning across northern India, heralding the beginning of Delhi’s annual air pollution season. But Delhi's chief minister has declared war.

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal pledged to take pre-emptive action – announcing a ‘war on pollution,’ including a ‘war room’ that he will personally command.

His main weapon is a seven-point action plan that includes tracking city pollution hotspots, launching a ‘green Delhi’ mobile app to address open-air burning complaints and repairing the city’s potholed roads to control dust. His plan will also promote a new, accessible composting mixture that Kejriwal hopes will inspire farmers in surrounding states to turn their crop waste into valuable fertilizer rather than harmful smoke.

If Kerjiwal’s initiative succeeds, it could mark a turning point in decades of inaction contributing to northern India’s bleak air pollution situation – as well as climate change.

If not, Delhi and neighbouring areas are headed for what Indians are now calling an ‘Airpocalypse’ - an autumn and winter of acute air pollution emergencies that would also exacerbate Covid-19 respiratory disease in a country that has the second highest coronavirus case toll in the world.

Health Policy Watch - Avoiding an 'Airpocalypse' - Delhi Declares War On Air Pollution