Delhi, the Indian national capital city, has been labeled as the most polluted city from around the world.
To wipe off this label, the capital city is trying its hands at something new to help in cleaning up its air. The residents of the Indian capital state of Delhi have now been roped in to fight against air pollution by reporting incidences to the authorities which promote air pollution like garbage burning or leaf burning in public parks, dust generated during construction activities etc. by using a smartphone mobile app called “Hawa Badlo”, which means “change the air” in Hindi, the national language of India.
Polluting Air in the City
India, like its neighboring country China, has seen how the pollution levels have spiraled up in the last decade. The economy of the country has boomed and it still relies on burning coal to generate electricity. With the skyrocketing number of vehicles on the roads and with millions of people still using kerosene, wood, or any garbage dump to build fires to keep themselves warm during the winters or even for cooking, it has all contributed to polluting the air.
The government has been trying to take adequate steps in the past two years to control air pollution like introducing strict emission norms for the cars and an extra tax that should be levied upon using trucks that are fuelled by diesel. There were also attempts made to limit the number of cars by implementing the rule of odd-even numbered licensed cars to run on alternate days on the roads during the winters.
About the Hawa Badlo App
The Hawa Badlo mobile app has been introduced by EPCA (Environmental Pollution Prevention and Control Authority), which is an organization that has been appointed by Supreme Court of India to improve the quality of air in the national capital Delhi and in NCR. It will allow the people to report the incidences which lead to pollution of air through the app. The chairperson of EPCA said that the main aim of the app is to garner inclusive participation from all the citizens to report air pollution incidences which they might come across in their everyday life like garbage burning, leaf burning, building construction dust, unpaved road dust etc., and thereby makes the people to play an active part in the city’s fight to completely curb air pollution. The mobile app has been designed by EPCA along with the concerned municipal corporations and departments of the Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana governments.
The Hawa Badlo app has two sections to work on. One section allows the citizens to report their complaint and also allows them to post pictures of the probable pollutants. The app also has another section for the officials wherein they can investigate, take action on the valid complaints, upload evidence regarding the work done by the officials, resolve the cases and also include a copy of the challan that has been taken for the concerned incident. As of now the main sources of air pollution that have been focused upon include the leaf and garbage burning, construction activities and road maintenance. However, there is scope for inclusion of other pollution linked activities and violations.
Weekly reports about the status of the cases that have been registered and also about the action that has been taken by the officials will be sent through the Hawa Badlo app to the State and Central Boards for pollution control and also to the concerned municipalities. The EPCA will then analyze all this information and submit its report to the Supreme Court regarding the actions taken by the officials upon undertaking the orders.
The Director General of CSE who is also a member of the EPCA has said that the expectation from the app is to perform actions of accountability, dissemination of public information by using the mechanism of public engagement.
The mobile app has been designed with a reputation system so that it can filter out all the false complaints, just like the concept that has been used to create the online product ratings. Every complaint that gets registered with the app will be geo-referenced first, which means that the location and time at which the evidence for violating the air pollution rules has been collected and submitted will be provided. The EPCA will then forward the complaint to the higher official who is in-charge depending upon the location and also taking into consideration the type of violation that has occurred.
The Hawa Badlo mobile app is publicly available on the Android and iOS App Stores. The app is expected to play a very active role during this year’s winter season whose coldness gives the city’s air a grayish haze. The app should work by engaging the public to curb air pollution and also to increase the accountability to reduce pollution.