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Depleting city green spaces, forests, water bodies, urban farming causing Delhi pollution

By Sandeep Chachra* 

As the air pollution levels escalate in Delhi and the National Capital Region, it is vital to understand the weight of the impact – a silent but substantial toll that Delhi residents are paying with an estimated loss of 10% of their lives, equivalent to 12 years.
Considering this crisis, there is a critical need to shift away from short-term, band-aid solutions and comprehensively re-evaluate the rural-urban development trajectory. Current urbanization processes are marked by relentless construction, widening roads, and overabundance of concrete, “grey” infrastructure.
These processes have resulted in the depletion of green spaces that are the lifeline within cities, including forests, water bodies and urban agriculture. Cities must diverge from these established patterns and prioritize the preservation of the residents’ “green lungs”, especially considering that 39% of state capitals lack master plans for green urban development.
Surging vehicular traffic, unchecked industrialization, and pervasive dust pollution are areas of grave concern. There is a pressing need to identify green, ecological pathways and adopt sustainable urban development practices to solve the air pollution crisis in Delhi and the entire nation. It’s time to fundamentally rethink our cities and commit to a greener, healthier future.
Regarding parali burning, we need to understand its role in the current agricultural processes set in place with the green revolution
Regarding “parali” burning, we need to understand its role in the current agricultural processes set in place with the green revolution. At a time marked by stagnant, if not declining, investment in agriculture, we are leaving farmers on their own to transition towards more environmentally friendly agricultural practices.
We need a fundamentally new approach to making a truly “green” agricultural revolution by enabling farmers to switch to agro-ecological practices. We must give vulnerable rural communities a significant stake in working on the land.
We need to revitalize the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) structures and processes to mobilize landless labour to enable small farmers to engage in climate-resistant, ecologically sustainable farming. We must encourage collective farming by promoting farmers’ cooperatives or farmer-producer organizations to adopt agro-ecological practices.
The crisis of air pollution that we are facing is a serious one. It calls for comprehensive, long-term, people-centric and community-led solutions.
*Executive Director, ActionAid Association



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