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Air pollution - Emergency measures from across the world

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November 14, 2016

Why in news?

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday announced emergency measures to tackle pollution which will come into place when air quality touches the ‘severe’ limit.

What are the measures?

  • These measures include
    1. Sprinkling water using helicopters,
    2. Stopping construction activity,
    3. Cleaning of dust from roads by mechanical. Manual cleaning only helps in regeneration of pollution,
    4. Stopping stone crushing and
    5. Stopping thermal power plants & diesel generator sets that cause more pollution than is permitted.
  • These measures are somewhat different from those put in place on bad air days in major cities elsewhere in the world.
  • But it should be noted that all these measures are temporary measures to handle extreme air pollution and not long term measures.
  • Apart from this Delhi lacks effective monitoring mechanism and long-term plan to check industrial pollution.


  • Once among the most polluted cities in the world, Beijing has had stringent emergency measures to combat chronic air pollution in place since 2011. These were formalized in 2013.
  • The Chinese capital enforces an odd-even road-rationing scheme for private cars whenever a ‘Red’ alert is sounded, immediately pulling some 1.8 million cars off the roads for every day that the scheme is in force.
  • An alarm will be sounded and messages will be played in buses and trains asking people to be cautious.
  • All schools are closed so that children are not exposed to toxic air, factories are shut down, and fireworks — which are a major draw during the Chinese New Year celebrations — are banned.
  • Even outdoor barbecues, which are very popular in local markets, are stopped.
  • All government departments have to ensure that only 70% of their vehicles are on the roads.
  • An alert is sounded on the day before a heavy smog day based on forecasts.


  • When smog enveloped the iconic Eiffel Tower in March 2015, the French capital took half its cars off the roads, much like Delhi’s odd-even scheme.
  • Only “clean” cars, those with uneven number plates or vehicles carrying more than three people have been permitted to enter Paris and 22 surrounding areas
  • Heavy fines were imposed for flouting the ban, and the speed limit was set at a low 20 km per hour.
  • An estimated 750 police officers were dispatched from 5.30am onwards to about 100 busy roads and junctions to hand out fines to those who ignored the measures.
  • Public transport and parking in residential areas were made free to encourage people to use public transport.
  • According to the government, the steps were successful and helped cut pollution significantly.
  • 2015 was only the third time since 1997 that the city had to implement emergency measures.

Mexico City

  • When it declares an air emergency, Mexico City bans a fifth of private cars from roads on every day of the week.
  • The temporary measure included ordering all cars to remain idle one day a week in response to the notoriously smoggy capital’s worst air-quality crisis
  • It also offers free rides on buses and trains.
  • The city started its battle with air pollution in the late 1980s and was the first to implement the odd-even scheme.


Category: Mains | G.S - III | Environment

Source: The Indian Express

Author: Shankar IAS Academy Chennai. Best IAS Academies for UPSC Coaching

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