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#MondayMusings: Where the air is free & pure for me to breathe

According to WHO reports, air pollution is the fifth largest cause of deaths in India.

Come Diwali and the stage is set for a peak in the prevalent air pollution in Delhi/NCR which has become an annual ritual. Its not as if the air is pure and the AQI hovers below normal in other months of the year. The large number of vehicles and industries operating in and around Delhi/NCR, have already set the stage for polluted air.

*AQI- Air Quality Index

But with the onset of Autmn-Winter, the particulates start to settle down in the cold air, making for a very hazy atmosphere. Its as if one is viewing the city through a dirty window. I kid you not, on most such days my hands itch to scrub the bedroom windows. Alas! That’s not the solution to this smog that disturbs not just the vision but our lungs too.

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my right to breathe - air pollution- protest-delhi-NCR

Major causes of  air pollution

Stubble burning in neighboring states of Haryana, Punjab and UP done by the farmers to clear the fields for next planting of crops.

Vehicular emissions are at all time high due to an exceedingly large number of vehicles on the road. This is also largely due to poor public transport and last mile connectivity.

Garbage dumping and burning in the open is a most common practice which contributes to the malady

Firecrackers being burnt on Diwali add to the pollution

Industrial pollution is at an all time high in Delhi/NCR and not just in air but land and water too.

All of these majorly contribute to the air pollution and during the winter months, it goes from bad to worse.

Political will power?

Poor air quality becomes real every year at approximately the same time. Yet, no pre-planning is done by the powers-to-be to counter it. No game plan is set to avoid/reduce this issue. On the contrary, the politicians wake up after citizens begin their protests. Even then, they join in the hullabaloo with no concrete plans.

Its been reported that the Central government has bought 140 air purifiers for PMO offices between 2014-2017. Mr Modi has maintained a stoic silence on this air pollution issue for all the years he has been a PM. But by using an air purifier in his office, what exactly is he telling his constituents?

What are all these political leaders telling India when they are hell -bent on cutting down forests for lucrative land deals? From Aarey in Mumbai to Aravallis in Haryana to several others, why are we being so casual in wrecking nature?

This year has seen unprecedented rainfall and destruction due to it, in several parts of India. Yet, the politicians refuse to accept that Climate change is behind it all.

This adamant stand on destroying air, land and water by every political party is befuddling. Money cant buy these natural resources nor can it repair damaged health. Medical experts are screaming foul at the way air pollution is killing people in hospitals. Breathing disorders are up by a colossal number and have become a major casualty cause.

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air pollution- protest-delhi-NCR

Solutions set to fail

In past few weeks, two emergency meetings were called out for the political big-wigs to discuss and find a solution for this malady. But guess what, most players skipped both the meetings. This goes to show how seriously this is being taken by our government. Who are these people we have voted to power?

Every year schools are shut down for 1-2 weeks when the AQI is most hazardous but thats it. Delhi sees the Odd-Even car scheme to cut down the number of vehicles on the roads. A half-hearted ban on firecrackers is also issued but its NEVER followed up in implementation. Neither by the authorities nor by the public.

Citizen’s protest

On 17th November, thousands gathered at the Leisure Valley park in Gurgaon to protest this behemoth adversity that the political powers insist on hoisting on our poor lungs. The pictures are worth a 100,000 words as children beg the politicians to have a heart and give us clean air.

Its said by medical experts that our lives are being cut by at least 7 years due to the massive air pollution. We are all smoking 50 cigarettes a day as we inhale this smoggy air. Imagine the plight of new born babies and children. What are we giving them for a future?

Once the winds and rains blow through, it will cut away some of this deadly smog and the politicians will take all the credit for it. Yes thats what happens every year and has happened this year too. The politicians think their constituents are mere idiots and can be fooled by any statement they make.

The worst is that none of the political parties have Environment on their agendas, ever! Not a single party has made it a stand and neither does the opposition step in to urge the sitting government in action over it.

Way forward

Air purifiers and breathing masks have become a normal thing in our households since past few years and they are here to stay. Last year the trend was to add air-purifying plants in the house and many nurseries made a killing with it.

This year its been reported that Oxygen bars have become operational in Delhi which let people breathe in pure O2, but at a price. So whether its the polluted air or pure air – both come at a price!

So at the end of the day, citizens are paying a heavy price. Whether its steep hospital bills or expensive medical equipment or the brunt of breathlessness- all is our burden. The situation is indeed grave and set to become worse still. Once the winds blow away the smog a bit, the politicians will avoid this topic like the plague, until next year.

In the meantime, we keep on protesting to clean the air, land and water and to stop our forests from destruction. But everyday the fight gets larger with the most powerful people in the fray getting bigger and louder. Possibly, human extinction is the way forward! Yes its a pretty defeatist attitude but guess what I am just tired out by now. I have absolutely no hope from the governments in India to ever wake up to the climate emergency. I bid adieu with these lines of hope from our Golden poet – Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore with my addition of a  silent prayer that this is what it will be!!!!

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;

{Where the air is free and pure for me to breathe;}

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
– Rabindranath Tagore

I have been writing about the nefarious un-green activities of our government and how citizen’s efforts are working to foil them. Here is one such post which I pray instills hope in all of us and some sense in the elected population. If you wish to be connected to Join/add your efforts to this cause, you could follow AravalliBachao on twitter.

“Adding a thanks to all the people who have permitted to share their photos and tweets from social media-truly grateful to you all”

Linking up with Corinne for #MondayMusings

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Sharing a past post for Monday Musings here

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17 thoughts on “#MondayMusings: Where the air is free & pure for me to breathe

  1. This happens every year and it was the worst this year. Yet I don’t understand why government isn’t doing anything. The situation is so bad that efforts of a few common people won’t make any difference. What’s stopping govt to ban stubble burning, which seems to be a leading cause of this year’s debacle? People need to realize that air purifying plants don’t do much, neither would the increase in eating food to increase immunity. There are oxygen bars in Delhi!! Wow! How much do they charge?

    1. Thats the shocking part Raji- happens every year and the government doesnt react till the public hue and cry starts. Its shameful and totally pathetic but these politicians are shameless and nothing falls on their deaf ears at all. They are killing off the land, air and water slowly for their greed. Dont know why they cant understand the simple truth of the fact that we only have this one planet to live on. No amount of money can buy you these pure resources or grow forests or…………………

      Not sure about the charges of the oxygen bars but yes they have started opening up in the malls and I am seeing articles about them in the paper.

  2. A few months back, I saw a Hindi series on Netflix, names Laila. The setting was futuristic, in that the colour scheme was totally grey. Grey skies, grey landscape, black rain (yes, black!), heaps of garbage everywhere, and our country covered in a pall of gloom. From what I read about Delhi and other cities, air pollution, cutting down of forests, I foresee a future that will be all grey, just like in the above mentioned series. We won’t have pure air to breathe, pure water to drink and our society will be ruled by politicians hungry for wealth and a good life for themselves, whereas the common man will be living a life worse than in hell (in fact, like we all do now!)
    When I look at new born babies, or pregnant women, I wonder what sort of a future these babies have; why are they being brought into a world that has no future whatsoever?! A bleak future is what we are looking at, thanks to the powers that be and their stupid decisions.
    It’s a sad, sad scenario, indeed! 🙁

    1. This serial sounds like a doomsday call out and I will check it out on Netflix. I am reminded of WALLE the animated movie which has shown how we fled Earth as life could not be sustained on it anymore. The only things left behind are the robots that are clearing the garbage piles and trying to make them into compressed blocks to be banked up properly. That is what our future will be too- its indeed bleak and no amount of shouting/protesting has had any effect on any world leader to date to make this a priority.

      Its the common man who suffers the most and will keep on so till there are no more of them. Maybe thats the plan- cull the population down and only the rich and powerful will get to survive and share the resources 🙁

    1. Political will to control and improve this situation is whats needed but that is what seems most impossible. Look at the state of affairs in Maharashtra at the moment. What hope can we have from our leaders?

  3. I cannot even imagine the situation out there in Delhi! It is sad that we have to fight so much for something as basic as air.

    I hope we all wake up soon and do something about the situation. Else, doomsday is very near.

    1. Doomsday is what we are headed for as this is not going to be cleaned up. World is going from bad to worse and we are silent witnesses and victims of it.

  4. The yearly fight for pure air has almost become a joke. Every year, Delhi’s air pollution woes become a trending topic. And every year, governments implement knee-jerk, stop-gap actions. The bottom line is, none of them are bothered about this abysmal air quality. Because they can afford 140 air purifiers and run them 24×7 on our hard earned money. It’s really disheartening to see where we are heading.

    1. Yes it’s very disheartening to see this being repeated every year without fail.

      I don’t think any government is going to clean this up mess apart from just taking care of their lungs as best they can. We the people are paying the price for it all either ways

  5. I am recovering from the shock of Oxygen bars!!! Something needs to be done for sure. I guess the industries need to find ways to reduce the pollution and the farming techniques need to improve!

    1. Most important is the political will and thats whats missing in this fiasco. More and more forests are being cut to further “development” and the backlash is this.

      Yup the oxygen bars are shocking news but a reality that will fast become a very happening trend, seeing that we have really bad air to breathe.

  6. The air quality in Delhi is worsening with each passing year and guess it is going to deteriorate considering the ‘actions’ of the government. I read about Oxygen Bars, a few days ago… wonder what else do we have to see!?!

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