In December last year, a month when the national capital recorded seven ‘severe’ air quality days, PM 2.5 levels at a distance of 100 metres from the smog tower at Delhi’s Anand Vihar fell by around 13 per cent. On November 3, when the air quality was in the ‘severe’ category, the PM 2.5 level peaked at 650 µg/m3 at 4 am at Anand Vihar, according to data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
Data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), obtained by The Indian Express under a Right to Information request filed in October, shows that the reduction in PM 2.5 levels at a distance of 100 metres from the Anand Vihar smog tower ranged from 7 per cent in March to 17 per cent in April this year. At 150 metres from the tower, the reduction in PM 2.5 levels was 8 per cent in April, while the PM 10 level saw a reduction of 5 per cent at the same distance from the tower in May.
This is a story about how civic action, political will and fighting a common enemy, won a public space for the people of Delhi. Not so long ago, the DDA District Park and forest land adjoining the Basant Lok Market lay in decrepit wilderness, from open nallahs and a dilapidated Tughlak-era monument to becoming a crime hotspot with murder and drug-peddling cases making headlines.
Today, the 43 acres have been transformed to become a public park that has close to 2,000 users a day. Visitors, young and old, have made the space their own. If in a corner one sees children from the nearby slum playing cricket, there are tik-tok-ers making videos, senior citizens out for a stroll, friends catching up and employees from nearby shops taking a work break.