In Delhi, we can fight air pollution by introducing rooftop plantations all over the city. This will help us to create a fresh, pollution-free environment especially in over-polluted cities like the national capital of India. I feel that the law should make such environmental gestures like rooftop farming mandatory in Indian cities.

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Tulsi Plant. Source: Vaikoovery

Birds, butterflies and insects perish as their natural habitat dwindles rapidly. Rooftop farming can bring back the natural beauty which is no longer seen in the polluted cities of the world. For example, Tulsi has tremendous environmental benefits as it purifies air. Tulsi releases oxygen for 20 hours a day along with the formation of nascent oxygen which absorbs harmful gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide from the environment.

Delhi has turned into a pollution zone so deadly that children in the capital have the lungs of ‘chain-smokers’, and suffer all the associated respiratory ailments. Living and breathing in Delhi is taking years off their lives, and marking what is left with bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, coughs, colds and all kinds of chest and throat infections.

With the relentless increase in the number of children and infants developing respiratory diseases, doctors have raised an alarm in the capital. Most now agree that the number of children who need medical attention as a direct result of the capital’s air pollution has risen three times as much in the last decade. The worsening air pollution in the capital has become the primary killer of infants and is slowing poisoning them with every passing day. Not only is the toxic air responsible for the various respiratory diseases that children are developing, but it is also shortening their life span.

Acid rain – also caused by dioxides in the air – increases the acidity of the soil, kills vegetation, and depletes fish and amphibian populations by acidifying freshwater and the oceans. This impacts the animals that are dependent and thrive on vegetation, fishes and amphibian, which in turn further intensifies the impact of pollution on the entire food chain.

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Here are some of benefits that green-roofing practices can bring to our societies:

  1. Reduce heating: a 2005 study by Brad Bass of the University of Toronto showed that green roofs can reduce heat loss and energy consumption in winter conditions.
  2. Reduces cooling loads on a building by 50-90%: especially if it is glassed in so as to act as a terrarium and passive solar heat reservoir – a concentration of green roofs in an urban area can even reduce the city’s average temperatures during the summer. A study presented at the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Conference in June 2004, cited by the EPA, also found that water runoff was reduced by over 75% during rainstorms.
  3. Natural habitats: green roofs can create the much-needed space for Delhi’s dwindling bird and insect population to revive again. What’s even better, you’ll have butterflies on your roof.
  4. Natural lung: green roofs filter pollutants and carbon dioxide out of the air which helps lower disease rates such as asthma.
  5. Green sponge: rooftop farming also helps filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater.
  6. Sound protection: green rooftops help absorb and thus reduce sound pollution; the soil contributes to blocking lower frequencies while the plants check higher frequencies.
  7. Increase agricultural space: With green roofs, water is stored by the substrate and then taken up by the plants from where it is returned to the atmosphere through evaporation.
  8. Green roofs not only retain rainwater but also moderate the temperature of the water and act as natural filters for any of the water that happens to run off.
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Kolkata Taxi Driver watering his green-roofed cab. Source: Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

The government can provide free seeds and saplings to encourage rooftop farming. It can be initiated in government schools, colleges and offices helping to inculcate such environmentally responsible gestures. Maybe soon there’ll be more like this Kolkata taxi driver who has set up rooftop plants on his own taxi. Maybe India will soon be like France where rooftop farming is being implemented by law.