It has become an annual ritual for the National Capital to gasp for breath at this time of the year, through the dense smog. The Air Quality Index (AQI) reached 460 (out of 500) on Sunday, after it had shown a promising dip on Saturday. The situation has been consistently bad throughout last week. So much so that it now deemed life-threatening. All border entry points into the city for heavy and medium goods carriers are sealed. The neighbouring states are to help in the rerouting of traffic. Schools and offices have shut down. Uber and Ola are to refrain from surge pricing.
In short, all the last-minute steps which the governing bodies of the state can take, and have previously implemented, have been taken. But there seems to be no long-term plan.
Protests and media coverage is just concentrating on smog
Smog or no smog, Delhi’s pollution levels are beyond acceptable levels throughout the year. And you know you are in deep trouble when film stars start tweeting concerns about the said issues. Everyone wants pollution levels to go down in Delhi and its surrounding areas. But then why is it not going down? It is easy to blame the government for not taking care of issues like crop burning, industrial pollution and construction. But do Delhiites themselves care two hoots about the issue? They only seem to address the trouble they are in, when their city becomes apocalyptic.
The fact that the problem is addressed only when it becomes visible is the reason why no action is taken throughout the year.
Air pollution is leading to grievous health issues
People would rather spend money buying air purifiers, gas masks and paying hospital bills, than put a budget on their monthly fuel consumption. No one cares about how their garbage is being taken care of. And of course it is offensive of the court to ban the celebration of festivities, despite the fact that nearly children in Delhi NCR suffer from severe lung-related health issues. Asthma, Bronchitis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Lung Cancer, Respiratory tract Infection, emphysema are not just medical terms. They are the reality of everyday life in Delhi.
If smog is akin to choking someone with bare hands, then having an average AQI of 300 to 400, around the year is like giving someone small doses of poison daily. Death becomes slow and more painful.
It is time everyone realizes that instant measures cannot provide long-term solutions.
For that the government and people will have to work hand in hand and make some major infrastructural and lifestyle changes. So when this smog subsides, the debate around this issue should not. Because it is time for Delhiites to stop resisting change, and accept the fact that it is the only way they can avoid the certain doom which is heading their way, one breath at a time.
Pic credits: Narada News
Dr Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is Dentist by training, writer by passion, mommy, wife by karma and a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.