report card” by Sunita Narain (October23) is an excellent analysis of the current status of air pollution
in NCR, effects of the recent ban on sale of crackers, improvement over the situation last year and ground level benefits of the Graded Response Action Plan notified in January 2017. It is heartening to learn—from an objective, experienced and non-political commentator like Narain—that there is indeed an improvement. The “five gains” are indeed significant. However, her summing up and the “incomplete agenda” are infinitely more important. I agree with her conclusion that “we know what to do”. Allow me to add that this is pretty much the situation in a lot of our development initiatives! We often know “what to do” and yet fail miserably to implement the good policies, lose steam very soon, become indifferent to vitally important tasks, get distracted by other projects that would generate bigger headlines and greater exposure in the visual media, and the well thought out plans eventually die a slow death. Often political exigencies are the cause of such approach. “Dropping the ball”, to use Narain’s words, is a malady that afflicts us as a nation.
May I also add—with due apologies to the apex court—that its diktat against sale of crackers should have come several months earlier and it should have covered the manufacture of these highly toxic toys that cause large-scale air and sound pollution. Yes, livelihood of the thousands involved in their manufacture is a vital issue and needs to be thought through; but pronouncing an order two weeks before Diwali
was at best a “half measure” and that’s exactly how it worked-halfway! When the trade had already stocked up for the big festival—as they do several months in advance—they would do everything possible to liquidate the stocks. Of course the order has created lot of public awareness and that is a crucial gain. Hopefully Diwali
2018 would see vast improvements.
Krishan Kalra, Gurugram
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