All everyone has been talking about for the past few weeks is the "gas chambers" we as Delhi-NCR citizens are living in. An emergency in the Northern belt of the country has been declared and the number of patients in hospitals has increased multifold. Most citizens are complaining about constant headaches, congested sinuses, cough, and chest pain but it's still not being taken as seriously as it should.
The air quality has dropped to hazardous levels and the visibility is very poor. The AQI (Air Quality Index) in the capital was recorded at 434 which is severe as declared by the Central Pollution Control Board. Just to put it in perspective- 0-50 is considered healthy on the index chart.
Delhi: A layer of smog blankets the area around ITO. Air Quality Index (AQI) is at 434 (severe) in ITO, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. pic.twitter.com/cRZ01BAvuv— ANI (@ANI) November 4, 2019
Today, the Supreme Court of India considered a special report by The Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority. The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said, "Can we survive in this atmosphere? This is not the way we can survive. No one is safe even inside homes; it is atrocious. Delhi is choking every year and we are not able to do anything. Question is that every year this is happening. People are dying and it can't happen in a civilised country".
Taking note of the stubble burning in the agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana, the court asked the center to call environmental experts and find a solution. The bench added, "Things are happening every year under our nose. People are being advised to not come to Delhi or to leave Delhi. State governments are responsible. People are dying in their state and neighbouring states. We will not tolerate this. We are making a mockery of everything."
On the occasion of Chhath Puja, thousands of devotees offered prayers along the bank of the river Yamuna. Unfortunately, thanks to our environment quality men in dhotis and women in sarees stepped into the river with toxic water which had hazardous white foam floating on the surface of it. They didn't get a view of the rising sun either because of the thick smog that is currently engulfing the capital city.
According to NDTV, Yamuna is one of the most polluted rivers in the country owing to the 19 drains that empty out in it contributing to 96% of the river's total pollutants.
Over the weekend, the matters were even worse as many parts of the capital showed an AQI of 999 because beyond that the reading doesn't show.
Air quality in Delhi at midday 999 ... AKA a top-coding problem where the machines can't measure the pollution. Remember the moment in Chernobyl when the dosimeters go phut. pic.twitter.com/HBUo6sR7CJ— Patrick French (@PatrickFrench) November 3, 2019
Schools in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida, and Gurgaon remain shut till Tuesday. The Delhi government has also undergone a massive drive to distribute five million protective masks to the citizens as well as started the odd-even vehicular restriction scheme in the state. Construction activities have also been banned in the area and people seen breaking the rule will be heavily penalised.
According to another report by NDTV, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh has fined 2,923 farmers in the state for contributing to the problem. The Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) also issued a health advisory for the general public. Here are the do’s and dont’s.
Not surprisingly the sales of air purifiers and anti-pollution masks have gone up by 70% as Delhiites continue to breathe in toxic air that is causing respiratory problems for many.
Agricultural scientist, M S Swaminathan took to Twitter to share a conclusive solution to the problem of stubble burning and his thread has been going viral.
In South India stubble is not burnt as there's economic value as animal feed. For years I pointed out many economic uses of rice straw. We should adopt a do-ecology approach with farmers to convert rice stubble into income rather than making them agents of eco-disaster. 2/4— M S Swaminathan (@msswaminathan) November 4, 2019
I suggest that the Delhi, Haryana and UP govts put up Rice BioParks where farmers can convert stubble into income and employment. We should stop blaming farmers since it will take us nowhere. Instead we should propose methods which are economically & ecologically desirable. 4/4— M S Swaminathan (@msswaminathan) November 4, 2019
Citizens of Delhi-NCR are frustrated and #RightToBreathe has been trending on Twitter. People are asking basic questions- how basic a demand does it have to be if they are asking for clean air to live a healthier and longer life?
@narendramodi we all have a right to breathe sometimes the aqi goes over 900. The government has said next to nothing about this. I live is Gurugram and every time I breathe I feel like puking many others do so too. Please put a strict set of rules.#RightToBreathe— Krishiv Arora (@AroraKrishiv) November 3, 2019
#RightToBreathe I had to left delhi in oct 16, because of pollution, else could have died, I had pre asthmatic symptoms, since then i was hoping that I will be back once its resolved, thanks to @indSupremeCourt to intervene, Now it should be resolved— Ajay Gupta (@Ajay_Gupta11) November 4, 2019
Who had thought that along with winter and summer holidays our children would one day be subjected to SMOG HOLIDAYS!!! We are playing with the lives of the next generation...What will it take for the govt to declare this a national calamity? #RightToBreathe— Marya Shakil (@maryashakil) November 4, 2019
What are we doing to this planet? Checked AQI for Delhi NCR today. It’s beyond than what we can ever think of. I can see only growing number of masks on people’s face year by year. #DelhiNCRPollution pic.twitter.com/ZErvCc1eHw— Shailesh Tyagi (@shailestyagi) November 3, 2019
I have constant headache from last two days + dry throat + heaviness in chest + loss of appetite. It is depressing to live in Delhi right now. I wish i could pack my bags and move to some other city with my family.— Deepu Raina (@raina_deepu) November 3, 2019
Have never felt this helpless in my life.
This orange light usually turns blue (when PM 2.5 reaches safe limit) in 15-20 minutes. It is still orange this morning after running uninterrupted for 10 hours. #pollutionkills #DelhiAirQuality #DelhiPollution pic.twitter.com/w55pAbtKOV— Rahul Pandita (@rahulpandita) November 3, 2019
According to a report by News 18, a survey conducted shows that 40% of residents from Delhi-NCR want to move to another city because of bad air quality and 16% want to travel during this period. 13% of the people also believed that they have no option but to deal with this pollution. 44% of the residents said that they have had health issues because of the pollution around them but have not visited doctors.
While citizens cry for help, the authorities in Uttar Pradesh have deployed an air-purifying van at the Taj Mahal to save the iconic monument. This is said to purify 15 lakh cubic meter air in eight hours within a 300-meter radius and is deployed so that the AQI levels reduce in the area and don't cause permanent damage to the monument.
To bring notice to the grave issue, a shoot was done where the bride was seen wearing an anti-pollution mask.
The dulhan-to-be and her husband did their pre-wedding photoshoot in the smog of Delhi to highlight how grave the situation is.
There has still been no conclusive action being taken to tackle the problem head-on. The authorities in India work on a reactionary basis and wait for the situation to reach a point of no return when they decide to take action. We are not investing enough resources and researching enough into eco-friendly ways to get rid of stubble crops. We as citizens are fed up with living in unhygienic and unhealthy environments and we demand a change. Is anyone listening to us trying to catch a breath?
Featured Image Source: Indian Express, India TV
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