November 5th, 2018

Delhi’s toxic mess is getting worse

I am not asthmatic.

I have no allergies.

(For the record, as a child, I used to say I was allergic to cream doughnuts, but that was because of a particularly disastrous road trip…I’ll spare you the details…)

So, no, I’m not allergic. I’m not asthmatic.

For my age I’m reasonably fit.

Exercise.

Need to lose 2/3 kg, but don’t we all?

Don’t smoke.

So why am I wheezing and coughing and spluttering?

Why are my eyes stinging?

Why do I feel borderline breathless?

THIS IS WHY.

THIS!

And more specifically, the area of south Delhi where I live.

R.K.Puram is the closest monitoring station to where I live, in a supposedly “smart” part of town, but you’d never know it.

We are blighted by non-stop construction, by road works and wretched flyover works that have been years in the making.  Don’t get me started on the cess pool of corruption and apathy and kowtowing to so-called VIPs, all of which have landed my part of town in this toxic mess.

Since the original flyover (to decongest crazy heavy traffic) was made a one way affair, in order not to inconvenience a handful of people who consider themselves VIPS, the rest of us have had to live with miserable traffic for years.  But it got so bad that, despite these self same “VIPs” trying to put the kaibosh on building another flyover, construction went ahead.  Year later, construction is still on.  We were told last week that the deadline of December 2108 already pushed back many times, will (surprise, surprise) not be met.

So we live in a haze of dust and construction works and crazy traffic…and we wonder why our air quality is hazardous?

Sorry to sound off, but I am angry.  Damned angry.

Condemned to breathe toxic air.

Let’s look at the current situation, shall we?  And do bear in mind that I’m not a scientist, just a cranky old lady.

A lot of construction work has been stopped by the courts for the first 10 days of November, in an attempt to reduce pollution.

There have been virtually no crackers burst in the lead up to Diwali on Wednesday.

So…what is to blame for this toxic fug?

The stubble-burning farmers of the states that surround Delhi?

Haven’t they always burned stubble?  Or is this a recent development?

I remember Delhi in the winter, when we would come here from Mumbai or Paris or Mauritius or Jo’burg (wherever we were living at the time).  The skies were blue, and we would sit out in my in-laws garden, and I would envy the life here.

So what the hell happened?

If we discount the farmers, since (I presume) they have always burned their stubble.

If we discount firecrackers, because there have been hardly any thus far.

We are left, I posit, with 2 major players to blame – rampant construction and traffic pollution.

This miserable situation happens year after year after year, but do we get a major injection of clean, safe public transport?

You know the answer to that already.

Is our city swept clean regularly?

Are our roads and flyovers planted with trees and plants to help fight the dust and pollution?  Or do we have a government that is still itching to chop down 16,500 trees in south Delhi?

Are our roads watered, to lay the dust?

I am in despair.

And I lead a privileged life here, let me tell you.

Not a pampered VIP-style life, far from it, but a privileged life, that’s for sure.

I can afford air purifiers.

I have a plant-filled balcony.

I have a small garden fore and aft of the house, with trees and a small lawn.

We are as green as we can be.  Plants on every surface, in every room, all over the house – all those pollution-busters like money plants and mother-in-law’s tongue.

And still I sit there, eyes stinging and throat burning.  Constant low-grade headache.

The plight of the thousands upon thousands of people who have to work outdoors does not bear thinking about.

Before I finish, having let off steam but not found a solution, let me make one change to something I said a few paragraphs ago.

I said that there were 2 major players to blame for the pollution.

Make that 3.

The 3rd factor to be blamed is the total ineffectiveness of our local and central government.

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