Delhi – From the city of Dreams to Most Polluted City, a journey that wrenches my heart

Parul Srivastava
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delhi pollution

We thought this year we would breathe fresh air, thanks to lockdown. But guess what? Winters are back and so is the Smog


 

Gone are the days when people used to eagerly wait for Dilli Ki Sardi. Delhi winters are not only loved by people of this city, but it is loved all across the country. For me, Delhi winters mean Sipping Hot tea with fog around me or having hot momos with my gang. But now, the winter season is Delhi only means Pollution.  The past few years have made winters unbearable for the people of Delhi.  It’s no more Dilli Ki Sardi, it is about Dilli ka Smog. In fact, we are scared of this season. It brings back breathing problems, throat choking, and much more. Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Every year when winter begins despite embracing it, we fear it.

delhi pollution

 

Dilli Ki Sardi ya Dilli ka Smog

Breathing in National capital is like smoking 50 cigarettes a day. I have been brought up in Delhi and it wasn’t the same back then. There was greenery, less pollution and of course soothing winters. Now, when I see smog sheet that covers Delhi every year –  I feel sorry. Because we all have destroyed one of the most beautiful cities all across the globe. Delhi is a city which welcomes everyone. It give wings to many dreams. “ Kehte hai Jo ek baar yahan aa gya who yahi ka ho ke reh gaya”.  But what we gave back to the city, the Title of Most polluted City in the World.  No one wants to stay here. Pollution is slowly killing people here and that scares us more than COVID.

 

Read more: COVID is not over & smog has already taken over the National Capital: 6 Simple Steps to protect yourself

(We are breathing most toxic air)

 

A city where non-smokers are dying due to lung cancer

Recently, when Karva Chauth was celebrated in India, the moon wasn’t visible in Delhi due to smog.  Notably, on that day, the city recorded the worst air quality worldwide. The poisonous PM2.5 were recorded 14 times the more World Health Organisation safe limit. Delhi was one of the most affected city due to COVID 19. The city registered 4 million cases. Now, the deteriorating air quality has heightened alarm over the health hazard posed by the choking smog. Doctors have predicted a sharp rise in respiratory illness.

 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal released a video on Twitter stating, “COVID and Air Pollution is creating havoc in Delhi right now.” Notably, scientists and doctors have agreed that pollution is killing Indians.  Just to give your gentle reminder – In the year 2017, more than one million people died in India due to pollution-related illness. It is affecting both Delhi’s rich and Poor.  But the only ray of hope is that government is finally calling it a ‘Public Health Emergency’.  At least, the issue is being addressed.

 

But how did Delhi get to this point? Is the stubble burning the sole reason or its time to look within? 

 

Every year, we hear about stubble burning and believe that is the only reason for smog in Delhi. Ok! It is one of the major contributors but it’s not the only one. Construction sites, burning of trash and heavy traffic in the city are equally important.  In the year 2018, the registered number of vehicles in Delhi was 11.2 million. Notably, it was an increase of approx 27 per cent since 2015.  It has played an important role in making Delhi one of the most polluted cities in the world. Apart from it, heavy construction work in the city also contributes to making Delhi’s air quality worst.  The city doesn’t have space to dump construction waste.  In an article of Guardian, The Delhi Pollution control committee said that the current facilities allow for about 1000 tonnes of waste to be processed every day, but the city produces an estimated 3,600 waste tonnes per day. Delhi geography is another factor that has increased pollution in Delhi.  The most fundamental parameter that impacts air quality is the speed of the direction of the wind.  The wind carries away pollutants in the coastal cities. But Northern cities don’t have any such luck.

 

According to a study done by Sarath Guttikunda and Bhola Gurjar,  Delhi’s meteorological conditions revealed that in Delhi, pollution levels are 40% to 80% higher in the winter months as compared to summer months. (It was done on the data of 19 years) In fact, on average, the PM (particulate matter) pollution levels exceed the national ambient standard of 100 micrograms per cubic metre by two to three times.  Clearly, the lack of winds that can take away the pollutants impacts the air quality.

 

So what’s government is doing?

· Anti-Smog Guns:  They have been installed at various construction sites to curb the pollution

· Red light on Gaadi off campaign  is run by the government to control pollution levels in the city

· They have banned the diesel generators in Delhi

· Ban construction on cards.

 

Meanwhile, Environment Minister of Delhi, Gopal Rai said, “The drive to combat pollution in Delhi is getting a positive response.” But is the positive response enough?  The damage has been already done. We can’t blame the government. We as the citizen of this city has to take full responsibility.

 

We don’t prefer public transports and led to an explosive increase in the number of vehicles on the roads of Delhi.  Despite the complete ban, people do burst crackers on Diwali. It’s Public Health Emergency and we need to take it seriously. COVID might not kill us but air pollution will!

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