Change is in the air in India — but first, it must be posted online.
The Supreme Court of India is now allowing people in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) to lodge air pollution complaints and grievances on social media, reported Quartz.
“CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) will immediately create a social media account on which the citizens may lodge their complaint directly to be acted upon,” Supreme Court Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer, and Deepak Gupta ordered yesterday (Oct. 29).
The decision marks the first time the use of social media has been endorsed by the court. But it reflects the current trend of other government bodies in India taking to Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp to address issues and infractions.
Causes of air pollution in the city range from improper disposal of refuse, unchecked construction and old diesel- and petrol-fuel vehicles that pump out noxious fumes.
“There is widespread garbage burning and construction happening without any control. So citizen vigilance makes the system more accountable,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment, in an interview with Quartz.
In addition to the new social media grievances policy, the court has also permitted vehicles older than 15 years old to be seized by traffic police. The decision comes in response to two landmark studies over the last year.
The air quality index in the city reached the 999-mark last year, which is three times the level considered hazardous, and this week WHO released a report on clean air which stated that “exposure to ambient particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM 2.5) killed 60,987 infants in India in 2016 — the highest for any country in the world,” according the report.