It’s Time For #PollutionKaSolution Before It’s Too Late
Breathe in, breathe out! If you can.
We’ve all read the alarming news reports and data. We’ve all seen the massive grey smog engulfing the sky like an eerie monster, following us to work, back home and everywhere in between. We’ve all felt its uneasy effects on our bodies, eyes, throats and minds. Schools have been shut. Our cities’ kids have been told to stay away from playground and we’ve all been advised by leading medical practitioners in the city to avoid morning walks.
My small-talk with acquaintances whether at a party or the gym, has been limited to the brand of air purifiers I am using in my office room, and the face-mask I recommend. Every day newspapers are carrying horrifying statistics like 4 out of 10 children have severe breathing issues in Delhi and how the hazardous air makes children as young as seven years old susceptible to lung cancer. And how we are all, smokers and non-smokers alike, breathing air akin to smoking 50 cigarettes a day.
And yet, where is the public outrage? Yes, people are sharing their worries on social media. I, for one, have been an active sharer of disturbing articles on the issue. I’ve also posted the petitions circulating around on Facebook in the hope of getting enough signatures to reach the Prime Minister’s office. Yet, there is a nagging, choking (all the pun in the world intended) feeling of hopelessness.
The Chief Minister of Delhi has called it a ‘gas chamber’. Yet nothing concrete has been done, apart from suggesting the odd- even plan, which never took off because the city was not ready to handle it.
If Arvind Kejriwal researched a bit more, he would know that a study conducted in 2015 by IIT Kanpur found that on counts of PM 10 and PM 2.5 pollution, 46% is created by trucks in the city, two-wheelers contribute to 33% and 10% is contributed by four-wheelers.
A report by the World Health Organisation claimed that 2.5 million Indians died of pollution in 2015 alone, which is the largest number of pollution deaths in the world.
This month, the levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 hit over 900 micrograms per cubic meter. The safe limits for those pollutants are around 60. We are all alarmed, but is this reaction enough?
Why don’t we demand that our politicians come out and address this issue? Someone needs to ask the need of the hour questions to both the Centre and Delhi Government. Where was the timely coordination with other state governments on issues like crop burning etc, which have escalated pollution problems drastically? Where was the delivery on the Delhi governments’ promise of last year of vacuum cleaning to reduce road dust ? Why weren’t there enough timely public warnings in terms of ads and hoardings? Why weren’t the entry of trucks banned earlier and why weren’t the number of buses increased? Why aren’t there improved measures and curbs on industrial waste? The State and Central governments play the blame game.
And now let’s turn to ourselves and ask some pertinent questions. Why do we, as citizens make peace with the worst situations presented to us? Why don’t we take matters into our own hands and educate ourselves on the steps to go green?
We have become immune to these appalling and destructive states of affairs. But it’s time we demand more. And also do more.
(Vasudha Sahgal is passionate about travel, food and words. She has contributed to various publications like The Tribune and Huffington Post. She had a stint in advertising as a trainee copywriter with Ogilvy and Mather. She’s working on some stories, one of which is available on kindle as“Life of Three”. Find her rambling at @vasudha1)
(Breathe In, Breathe Out: Are you finding it tough to breathe polluted air? Join hands with FIT to find #PollutionKaSolution. Send in your suggestions to email@example.com or WhatsApp @ +919999008335)
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