Indian political discourse manages to stay off climate change. Read on to find out the reasons and implications of this ignorance. 

In India, there is a water crisis in several states. Case in point: Chennai. We are a leading country in population, and have leading cities in pollution- to the effect that being a non-smoker in Delhi is no longer possible, as we all breathe in toxic fumes. Ghaziapur garbage dump is as tall as Qutub Minar, among other dumps in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai. One-third of Himalayan ice caps will not survive this effect of climate change; the melting of glaciers has doubled in the last two decades. It will only increase in some time. There is close to no rain in Delhi, but the regular floods in Mumbai, Assam, and Bihar are not unheard of. 

Despite the deteriorating situations, climate change and environmental policies were still not a priority during the elections. Jobs, corruption, and security have always remained popular ideas in the country’s political discourse. This sadly reflects on what the voter-base wants to hear, and shows that we still have a long way to go. Among various reasons for this ignorance, poverty and illiteracy become major factors. For a starving family of unemployed seven or eight people, living in a makeshift tent under a flyover, a square meal will be more important. But who will be affected immediately, and to the worst effect in this situation of climate change? The majority of our population includes people with no homes, who barely make their ends meet, and they will all face the brunt of this (ignorance) the most.

The image of mother, or Maa in Hindi, is highly glorified. The mother, who is called the backbone of the family—in line with the pedestalised notions of motherhood—is only talked about when there is a need to evoke a sense of nationalism or to emphasise the proverbial self-sacrificing nature of women. But between the loud traffic and noises blaring on news channels, all the screaming voices in our country hardly say anything for our ‘Mother’ Earth. 

The crux of the matter is that India needs more environmental policies and laws to be enacted and strictly enforced. Class twelfth Political Science books talk about how after the British drained our resources, it took several years for us to realise the problem, and only much later were we able to rectify them—we are heading down this path again. It is not the time to convince people if climate change is real, because it is. 

The Ministry of Environment and Forests needs to be seen as the highest profile allotted in any cabinet. Simply because currently, environmental issues are not the focus point; our existing policies do not suffice and many of our policies allow industrialists to cut down trees in bulk, and we are ill-equipped to manage any natural disasters. 

Recently, the Garbage Café in Chhattisgarh has acknowledged an important concern. It will open next month, and take certain kilograms of garbage to provide food to people. This café will open in Ambikapur, India’s second cleanest city. A similar story was heard about a school in Assam, which provides schooling to children in exchange of plastic waste. Another revolutionary idea was the Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals having been made from 80,000 tonnes of recycled electronics and mobiles. 

Theories on the world ending in 2012 gained a lot of traction, but scientists telling us how to protect this Earth—an act for which we pointedly have time till 2030—is yet to make as big of an impact as a movie. These ideas that have been proposed are unique solutions to fighting multiple problems together. But they are yet to gain the social mileage that they deserve. The Indian political discourse needs to change and reflect today’s problems to fight the real enemy. 

Feature Image Credits: MIT Technology Review

Shivani Dadhwal

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With air pollution reaching galloping levels in Delhi, the authorities are finally awake from their slumber and the Odd-Even rule will be implemented again from November 13, 2017.

The Arvind Kejriwal Government announced on Thursday to bring back the Odd-Even car rationing scheme for five days from November 13 to November 17, 2017 as part of a graded response plan to tackle the hazardous levels of air pollution in the Capital, with air quality worsening for the third straight day. This is the third time that Delhi will try the radical road-rationing scheme during which private cars with even and odd-numbered plates ply on alternate days.

Top officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), however, questioned the timing of the plan, suggesting the emergency measure may not be required any longer because weather conditions would improve from Friday, clearing the toxic haze that has engulfed Delhi since Monday night. The scheme will be in place from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., beginning Monday. Women drivers, two-wheelers and vehicles carrying children in school uniform, in addition to VVIPs, would be exempted from its provisions, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said. “The exemptions will be similar to last year and there is no need for people to panic,” he told reporters, adding that CNG vehicles having valid stickers would be exempt. The Minister also added that the Delhi government would not allow cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola to resort to surge pricing during the period in Delhi. Motorists will have to pay ?2,000 if they violate provisions of the scheme, which will be enforced by teams of the Delhi police, the transport department and sub-divisional magistrates.

According to the government, vehicles of the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister, Governors, the Chief Justice of India, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Union Ministers, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, and SPG protectees, among others, will be exempt. Embassy vehicles do not come under odd-even rules and neither do commercial vehicles bearing yellow number plates. However, the Delhi government has not given any exemption to its Ministers, including the Chief Minister. Women only vehicles, including children of age up to 12 years, travelling with them will be exempted. Vehicles driven or occupied by handicapped persons will also be exempt. Two wheelers will be exempted from the scheme like the last two phases of the odd-even rationing scheme. CNG-driven vehicles, battery or electric-operated vehicles and hybrid vehicles will not be under the ambit of this scheme. The Delhi government has directed DTC to hire 500 buses from private contractors to tackle the rush of commuters during the odd-even implementation week. Delhi Metro will also provide 100 small buses during the period.

A study by atmospheric scientists of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Kanpur and Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology Pune had found that 15-day road-rationing in January 2016 brought down pollution levels by just 2-3%. The Delhi government’s own assessment of the next round, in April of the same year, said the drive did little to reduce pollution or congestion.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Oorja Tapan
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Rocky Tuseed, the President of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU), appealed to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Delhi (DU) to suspend all classes till Sunday in the wake of alarming levels of pollution in Delhi.

In a letter to Mr. Yogesh Tyagi, Tuseed expressed concern over the effect of the pollution on the health of the students, especially as the semester examinations are about to begin. He also referred to the Lt. Governor’s order that demanded restricted entry of trucks, cessation of all construction activity, and the shutdown of schools in the city till Sunday, saying that a similar order needs to be in place for the DU students. A request for a joint meeting of the administration and the student body was also made in the letter.

Pollution has hit a record high of 478 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi. The return of the odd-even scheme is also being contemplated by the state government, which was to be resumed only if the AQI exceeded 500 points. However, the severity of the current situation has prompted the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to advice the government to re-start the scheme. So far, the call by the Indian Medical Association to declare a public health emergency has also been resisted, despite the problems caused by the smog in terms of vision and respiratory issues.

It is absolutely imperative that keeping these short-term fixes aside long-term policy actions are taken by the government to improve the state of the city’s air. The general public needs to give its full and unequivocal support towards making the city better for all of us to live in. It is truly infuriating that it has taken a crisis of such a scale for people to realise that the environment we live in needn’t be annihilated for satisfying human greed.


Image Caption: Record high levels of pollution have already led to the shutdown of schools.

Image Credits: India.com

Rishika Singh

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Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is a time of gratitude and gaiety and is celebrated with unmatched enthusiasm in India and the world around. Dipped in the frolic of festivity, the atmosphere is resonant of the righteous anthems of the triumph of the good and virtuous over the evil and spiteful.

The associated jamboree can be seen materialising as early as a month prior to Diwali. The merry sentiment is inherent in each household and is characterised by the obligatory Diwali shopping and cleaning. While the latter is more or less customary, the former holds its fair share of skepticism in the constituting wholes.

Firecrackers, a Diwali essential as insinuated by a significant percentage of Indian households, are the immediate cause of deteriorating air quality and to keep a check on the alarming pollution levels of the same, the Supreme Court on Monday, October 9 suspended the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR till November 1. The move was an attempt to grade the air quality in the absence of unregulated burning of firecrackers during Diwali.

While it came as a blow to the traders and businesses dealing with them, with their licenses suspended temporarily, it is essential to contemplate the SC’s directive to render Diwali a damp affair in the national capital.

In the weekend that followed Diwali the previous year, India’s air quality was among the world’s worst and the government had declared an air pollution emergency in Delhi. The post-Diwali upheaval comprised of an average of PM 2.5 level of over 700 micrograms per cubic meter in the capital city, some of the highest levels recorded the world over and 29 times above the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. (Source: Scroll.in)

Chetan Bhagat, contesting the credibility of the ban, tweeted, “Can I just ask on cracker ban. Why only guts to do this for Hindu festivals? Banning goat sacrifice and Muharram bloodshed soon too?” With Hindu nationalists colouring the ban in communal colours and dismissing it as a story of Hindu victimhood, it is important to understand that a ban on the sale of firecrackers is first, not the same as a ban on burning firecrackers and second, in no way a threat to the sanctity of the festival and insinuating it on similar grounds is nothing but willful notoriety.

Although he faced a lot of ridicule and criticism for the same, an earlier tweet of his talked about coming up with innovations and not bans, a theory which cannot entirely be negated. Bhagat and his ilk argue against necessitating a ban and instead, suggest enforcing stricter guidelines. However, if we had the sense to self-regulate, to understand the importance of common sense moderation it would not have come for the government to intervene, says The Huffington Post.

Burning firecrackers is the same as smoking cigarettes, people always know that it is harmful but they never know enough to stop. While the SC’s decision has been treated differently by different stakeholders, the fact remains that the ban is a bid to test the impact of a smoke-free Diwali post the previous year’s catastrophic state of affairs.

Deepavali, as the name suggests, has always had to do with the lighting of lamps to illuminate the path of Lord Rama on his way back to Ayodhya. The wayward involvement of firecrackers might have come about as an accidental disaster in the course of history, which eventually got incorporated in our associated tendencies of the festival, for all I know. But, accepting it just as such especially during a time when India’s national capital ranks as one of the most polluted cities in the world according to WHO’s latest urban air quality database released in May, 2017 can result in an unprecedented tragedy.

With just a few hours remaining before Diwali, the wisest choice is to not fret over things we have no control over and things we know are right, just not convenient. Let us resolve to celebrate the festival in all its glory, unmarred by erroneous practices and fabricated mirth.


Image Credits: The Indian Express

Lakshita Arora

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Phase 1 focused on individual orders, wherein the volunteers and the team members  had to bring orders from households in their vicinity. Phase 2 shifted attention from individual orders to bulk orders in educational institutions, coaching centers, etc. Volunteers and the team members were supposed to contact their schools and nearby coaching centers for these bulk orders. The plants were sold at reasonable prices with timely delivery within 3-4 business days. The campaign witnessed an extraordinary success in phase 1, where the sales crossed over 2500 plants. This distant vision saw success because of the tireless efforts the team who continuously guided the volunteers at every step and motivated them to work hard. Phase 2 was also extremely successful and the overall sales crossed the 4000 mark. Overall, the campaign was extremely successful and Enactus SGGSCC was able to raise funds equal to Rs. 25000 from the campaign for funding its various other social projects. Image Credits: Enactus SGGSCC Shreya Srivastava [email protected]  ]]>

Project Title: Unbeatable Air Pollution in Delhi

Principle Investigators

1. Dr.D.K. Mallick, Sr.Assistant Professor, Department of Botany

2. Dr.Aparna Nautiyal, Assistant Professor, Department of Botany

3. Dr.Aparna Shekhar, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry


Dr. Chirashree Ghosh, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, University of Delhi

Student Members

Ambikeya Sharma, Ashutosh Sharma, Nima Sunny, Payal Shaw, Priyanka Sharma, Tanujeet Ghosh, Sangraj, Vrashti Goel, Sharad Negi, Vikas Kumar

Deshbandhu College was awarded 12 innovation projects under DU Innovation Project Scheme 2015-2016. Each project has 10 undergraduate students of Deshbandhu College working under 3 faculty members and one external mentor. The projects provided the students from different backgrounds and discipline a space to explore new things, work in a team, develop confidence, experiment with innovative ideas and broaden their horizons beyond the classrooms and curriculum.

Urban air pollution is a serious problem in both developed and developing countries. As a rapidly expanding center of government, trade, commerce and industry, Delhi, being the capital of India has been facing many air pollution related problems and has also been ranked the most polluted city in the world. Regular checking of the tolerance of the existing tree species with respect to pollution and plantations of such more tolerant species is supposed to have a marked effect on various aspects of the air quality of urban environment and cleanliness of life in a city.

The Project DBC-311 entitled Unbeatable Air Pollution in Delhi: Trees for Rescue is a comparative study of different plant species to combat rising pollution in Delhi.   The Air Pollution Tolerance Index(APTI) of the plants needs to be monitored and checked for the predominant species that are located in this city. The research takes into account the ATPI value of 4 tolerant species, each of which are planted in the 4 distinct areas- R.K. Puram, Deer Park, Okhla and Nehru Palace, which are being used for the green belt planning, plant five samples of different species at these sites and after a certain period of time visit them again to analyze the amount of chlorophyll deducted during this time period as a result of increasing pollution.

The research shows that apart from the beauty provided by them, the trees also play a major role in detoxification of the polluted air. Also, the study of different land use site will help in making the city comparatively cleaner. In order to understand the effect of air pollution on plants and the adaption mechanisms of plants and the adaptation mechanisms of plants under stress conditions, present study is based on the idea of integration of two departments, viz., Botany and Chemistry to examine the impact of air pollution on a few commonly occurring tree species of Delhi.

The project was started in September 2015 and half the project has been done till March 2016 and yet more investigation is going on. The outcome of this project will generate further understanding about how efficient the existing plant species in the city are to combat the rising air pollution, so that strategies can be formulated and implemented not only to protect the existing species but also to look for more tolerant species to be planted. Different sites within Delhi have been surveyed for selected plant species to find out the effect of rising pollution in Delhi over the years.

Shreya Srivastava

[email protected]