Why is India so Dusty?

Pollution is defined as the introduction of dangerous compounds into the environment known as pollutants, which degrade the quality of the air, water, and land. They cause major health concerns all around the world. Bhiwadi (Rajasthan, India) is the world’s most polluted city, according to the IQAir 2021 report. Bhiwadi was followed by another Indian city, Ghaziabad, Delhi and 11 other Indian cities in the top 20 Polluted cities of the world list.

According to the report, India is the fifth most polluted country in the world, out of 117 countries, regions, and territories. The annual average PM2. 5 levels in the country reached 58.1 micrograms per cubic metre (g/m3) in 2021, returning to pre-quarantine levels reported in 2019.

What is PM, the measuring scale of AQI (Air Quality Index)?

Particle pollution, commonly known as particulate matter (PM), is composed of particles (small fragments) of solids or liquids in the air. Among these particles are Dust and Dirt.

So, Why is India dusty and full of dirt?

  • Internal Climate: India has a largely dry climate besides the monsoon months. The rainy season wets the grass and lands, but the summer season leaves them dry and devoid of humidity. The resulting loose soil or dust is carried across the country by westerly and easterly winds. India is either too dry or too humid, making it unique and prone to dust and filth. 
  • Vegetation loss: Indian towns are made mostly of brick structures and roads, which are frequently constructed using low-cost materials. Because of the density of human living, there is little vegetation between human settlements to hold the soil on open sections of the ground. Furthermore, India has a large amount of arable land. Crops, unlike forests, are cyclical and do not prevent soil erosion unless specifically designed to do so. Desertification is a major issue, particularly in Northwest India.
  • Arabian Desert/Thar Desert: Every year, dirt from the Arabian desert is transported to our country via the Arabian Sea. The Thar Desert is in the same boat. It’s a natural occurrence in which powerful winds bring dust with them.
  • Alluvial soil: A very light soil formed in the region over time by the great Himalayan rivers, is found in the Northern Plains of India. A gentle breeze is all that is required to lift and scatter this fine dust.
  • Due to the lack of green areas and grasses as a result of frequent movement of people and vehicles, this dust never settles, making the northern section of the country highly dusty. This phenomenon is less common in locations with heavier soil, such as those with Red, Yellow, and Black soils. Since these soils are heavier for the wind to lift, dustiness is comparably low in Central and Southern India.
  • Tarmac Roads: When a tarmac road is built, it is never made edge to edge wide. The government only issues specified range tenders to the builder. The issue is that there is no footpath left in the area where there is no footpath, so it simply lies raw with all the dust. You may have been hit by a car or a bus, causing a cloud of dust to fall on your face.
  • Speed breakers and trucks: These enormous speed barriers are required for people to slow down because they cannot go slow without them. The issue here is that the vehicles are overloaded, leaving gaps between the trolley frame and the door. These trucks can’t hold dirt, soil, sand, or coal without leaking. So you can imagine what happens when these canisters encounter speed bumps, and you may have seen them spill in the past. The road catches it all and distributes it to the other vehicles to play with!
  • No restrictions on construction activities across urban India.
  • Unplanned footpaths and gutters.
  • Air Pollution caused by Industries and Factories.
  • Broken roads that move faster with the movement of vehicles.
  • Dust can be reduced through proper city planning. For example, Chandigarh has very little dust.

What can be done to Minimize the Dust?

  • Use mechanical cleaning machines to clean the roadways.
  • There are relatively few damaged roads, and the pavement is carefully maintained.
  • All areas are grassed or have stone paths.
  • Covering under-construction structures.

The difference is in the perspective, in the attitude. We’ve accepted it (dust) as a part of life, therefore we don’t care enough to address the underlying cause. Developed countries diligently preserve their habitat, and as a result of their outlook, they have gradually constructed a better system. They’ve cleared out a lot of issues.

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