I woke up to a quiet morning with little time to myself. Autumn mornings and a nip of cold , the swirling smoke of warm tea tracing memories in the air. A rare delight, it was not. Delight is when you are happy but now the pleasant memories of autumn morning are safe somewhere in the past. A day off from school because the air is unsafe to “ Breathe” , was the last reason imaginable. Yet we live in a world stranger than Orwell’s 1984. Now we look at autumn morning form behind glass doors with green plants and air-purifiers adding freshness to the room.
The other day my daughter had breathing trouble in class and her classmate was quick to share her inhaler. I was shocked! Not At the quick thinking of child to offer inhaler( offering first-aid knowing we do not share inhalers ) but at how the world has evolved from once sharing pencils and lunches, to this generation sharing “inhalers”.
Now , the school checklist each morning is inhaler and mask, followed by water, lunch, books & RFID. The school doesn’t allow sharing food due to health issues, I do not allow re-filling water bottle outside due to NDM 1 scare in water supply and the government doesn’t want us to Breathe due to polluted air.
“Vote- seekers” (politicians) call Delhi “gas-chamber” as though they will win empathy of citizens. Those in places to bring change have left it to citizens to do the needful.
Writing slogans, car-pool, online petitions can hardly put a dent in the bigger problem.
A problem that governments of various states can easily work-out together and resolve, after all it’s the lives at stake.
Innovative techniques to reduce farm stubble have to be used. Also alternate crops like maize should be grown, instead of paddy , that leaves such stubble and lowers ground water reserves. After all the wind will blow from west to east for now.
Cars are a major source of pollution but so are bigger transport vehicles like trucks but then what about the silent problems like road-dust on streets. A study by IIT- Kanpur in 2015 revealed that that cars and jeeps contribute less than 10% of particulate matter while trucks are bigger culprits. Also road dust that accounts for about 35% of tiny particles known as PM 2.5 in the air, followed by vehicles.
Construction sites are equally responsible for pollution as are restaurant and hotels.
Perhaps on a more neighbourhood level, civil society activism is needed where RWAs can pitch in to address issues like road dust, planting more trees in neighbourhood and leaving less carbon footprint in every possible way.
The urban jungles can use more green and less concrete.
However, for “vote-seekers” the problem to resolve immediately is the one that gets votes, not humans suffocating in capital of India which is leisurely termed as “gas chamber”.
If we are in gas chamber then what does it make those at top responsible for putting us in it? Need I say more or is it understood?
The only difference is we are all in the same “gas-chamber” – the haves, the have nots, the policy makers, the vote-seekers and the voters.
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