Pollution is My Oxygen: It’s getting harder to breathe & I’m not used to choking on something other than my words


It was a week before Diwali. The lights weren’t even up yet. The mad rush to buy firecrackers had only just entered people’s minds. At 2 in the afternoon I had just deboarded the metro at Mohan Estate. I walked to the railings and squinted my eyes.  It was so blurry. *cough*

I removed my glasses and wiped them clean. *cough* Still blurry. And grey. And just- *COUGH COUGH COUGH*

It was smog. It was early this year.


Dilliwallas will probably survive any apocalypse the world throws at us. Having being raised on adulterated and lead laced food our whole lives, what’s a little extra pollution, amirite? If you can survive the street side golgappas, you can survive anything…!

Or so I thought. But the fact is, it’s getting harder to breathe. I haven’t seen smog so early in the year before and the idea of Diwali crackers has never made me so nervous.

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New Delhi has now overtaken Beijing as the most polluted city in the world.  We’re breathing air that is ten times over the safe zone.

Air quality

This is the air in Delhi.

Air Quality Index: New Delhi

Check it in real time here: http://aqicn.org/map/india/#@g/28.5809/77.3183/11z

Someone mentioned something alarming to me- there isn’t enough oxygen in Delhi to sustain the people. This leads to people feeling fatigued even after a full night’s sleep, having low energy and being sleepy all the time. Beijing has a Four-level Alarm System to tackle episodes of heavy pollution. Delhi has no Health Advisories or Action Plans for it’s people.

“When you have fog, in the winter season, you tend to see more patients with respiratory complaints.” said Dr. A.K. Singh, a consultant pulmonologist. “We don’t live in a country where you can choose your profession or your place to stay. Telling people to leave Delhi and live somewhere else with better lungs is easier said than done.”

The problem needs to be addressed at a large scale. It isn’t just the after effects of Diwali celebrations. Vehicular traffic, burning agricultural waste in the neighbouring states and factories around the city are fuelling the problem. We can only plant so many trees, we’re already the greenest capital in the world! The occasional No-Car day won’t get us anywhere. As citizens, we need to take more responsibility for our atmosphere and be more vocal about wanting clean air…or at least start praying for rain.




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