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Pollution | Waste deep – Cover Story News

Pollution is on everyone’s mind as it takes a grim physical toll. The laws are there, but so is mass apathy. What’s required is a concerted push towards compliance

Raisina Hill in New Delhi in the 1950s (Getty Images); the grand vista shrouded in the now customary winter smog (Photo by Chandradeep Kumar)

There’s been no dearth of concern on pollution in the past decades. We also have enough laws to check air, water, noise and waste pollution. There is a growing realisation that pollutants are exacerbating climate change and contributing to human misery as never before. But compliance? That’s another story.

There’s been no dearth of concern on pollution in the past decades. We also have enough laws to check air, water, noise and waste pollution. There is a growing realisation that pollutants are exacerbating climate change and contributing to human misery as never before. But compliance? That’s another story.

Action against air pollution is taken under provisions of Air (Prevention and Control of Poll­ution) Act, 1981, and Environment (Protec­tion) Act, 1986. Along with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for industrial sectors, the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP) consists of 804 operating stations covering 344 cities/ towns.

The 2021 World Air Quality report found that PM2.5 concentrations—tiny particles in the air that are 2.5 micrometres or smaller—in 48 per cent of Indian cities are over 10 times higher than the 2021 WHO guidelines. Vehicular and industrial emissi­ons, construction, crop burning, and power gene­ration are the biggest sources of air pollution.

To curb noise pollution, central and state pollution control boards have installed 70 noise monitoring systems in seven metropoli­ses. Water being a precious asset, common effluent treatment plants (CETPs) have been installed across India to treat waste water. There are similar regulations to check and dispose of hazardous solid wastes and ensure chemical safety. Rigorous regulations are also in place for e-waste management, plastic waste disposal and removal of construction and demolition waste.

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