It was Friday, November 1st, 2019, when I woke up to the news of a Public Health Emergency being declared in Delhi by the Environment Pollution Authority of India (EPAI).
The National capital was once again in the limelight as the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city crossed the ‘hazardous’ 400 mark on the pollution check scale. Well, wait, that is not all!
The city saw the worst of all on Sunday morning with the AQI hitting a whopping 483, crossing the “severe much” level on the same.
The Pollution Crisis
With the air getting unbreathable, the Delhi government shut all schools until November 5.
The rising levels of pollution have entirely disrupted the life of a common man. And the real picture is far worse than all that is being communicated via news.
The city is entirely covered in a thick blanket of smog. The vision is hazed and the air is too toxic to breathe. Not only this, it is reported that breathing in such air affects health in the same way as smoking 44 cigarettes a day.
According to India Today, 33 flights have been diverted and more than 550 flights have been delayed at Delhi Airport due to the smog.
Considering the current situation, it can rightfully be said that the city has turned into a toxic gas chamber.
What Do The Localities Have To Say?
A young and a well-settled couple who happens to be an acquaintance has decided to relocate to Goa permanently. The decision was made following the rising pollution in the city.
When asked about the consequences of their decision; they replied that they are happy to try and have a fresh start with their CA career but are not fine with living in a gas chamber at any cost.
Surprisingly, they are not the only one to think so.
According to a recent survey report covered by the “LocalCircle”, it was reported that over 40 percent of residents said they would like to leave Delhi NCR and move somewhere else while 16 percent want to travel during the period.
The survey consisted of 17,000 respondents from Delhi NCR. Not only this, the survey also asked them on how pollution is affecting them and their families in the past week.
Out of which, 13 percent of respondents said that one or more of them have visited a hospital already whereas 29 percent said one or more of them have visited a doctor already.
Mahendra Chauhan, a resident of Noida writes about his grievances due to the increasing pollution levels. He says, “ I have left Noida and now I am in Pune. I can see the change. My 10-month daughter was hospitalized due to infection so I have to send her to my hometown. My allergy due to dust and pollution is active. My mom is worried due to all media crap. We always took the environment for granted and now we are paying for it.”
Vineet Billoroy, a software developer by profession says, “Currently Delhi/NCR is one of the biggest job providers for struggling or job seeking people. Hence they avoid the risk of pollution at the cost of money. But considering the rising AQI, people living here are looking for good opportunities outside Delhi/NCR.”
A climate change activist, Deepika Bhardwaj, who shifted to Goa in 2016 due to worsening pollution says,“I feel bad that I cannot go back to my home city, ever. It’s a feeling of permanent loss, like a friend who didn’t say goodbye.”
Movers and head hunters reported that there has been an exponential rise in the number of “pollution refugees”- people who have decided that the only way to cope with Delhi’s staggering pollution is to run from it, according to a report published by The Washington Post.
Although the privilege of relocating is only limited to the elite class who can bear the expense of having a fresh start in an unknown city. The common man is still struggling to breathe and continues to suffer in silence.
Who To Blame?
A lot of debate has been ongoing over the existing pollution crisis. With Diwali just gone by, it is speculated that bursting crackers is the major reason for the increased toxicity in the air, whereas the practice of stubble burning by farmers of Punjab and Haryana is also held accountable.
Some people are also making it a political issue by raising questions on the Delhi government’s administration that failed to address the impending doom.
While the officials are still playing the blame game, I believe it’s high time to act than talk.
Delhi is considered to be the economic hub and the most ambitious city in India. However, it is heartbreaking to realize- how great is a city if its air fails to provide a healthy lifestyle and causes some of its people to flee?
Image Credits: Google Images
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