DELHI IS NO LESS THAN GRAVEYARD……….FOR DELHIITES
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, has expressed fears of the national capital once again turning into a “gas chamber” in the coming months. On 18th October, he also explained that the central government has “failed” to take adequate necessary steps to deal with air pollution.
We all are well aware about the fact that as cooler temperatures arrive in Delhi it brings back steadily worsening pollution along. It starts around the festive month of Diwali and remains constant till summers hit Delhi around February and March. This year, even before Dussehra, Delhi’s Air Quality Index has reached to severe level. The national capital saw a dipped in Air quality in the morning of 20th October with PM 10 level at 267 and PM 2.5 level at 226, both in ‘Poor’ category on Air Quality Index (AQI), at Lodhi Road.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’, and 401-500 ‘severe’.
IN SEARCH OF CULPRIT
The residents in those areas are no less than the culprits. We have been raised by learning a statement ‘Bharat Tyohaaron Ka Desh hai’ (India is a land of festivals), but do we ever realize that what harm are we causing to our mother earth and our own body being behind the back of these festivals. We learned through the aforementioned statement that this year Delhi’s air quality deteriorated even before Dussehra, and we are spoiling it even more by burning the statue of Ravan every year. We are already aware about the fact that Lord Ram finished negativity by killing Ravan then what’s the need of burning his statue every year as it adds more pollution to the environment.
Not just that with a toxic smog beginning to grasp New Delhi as winter approaches, residents of the Indian capital are ready to make matters a lot worse early next month by burning hundreds of thousands of firecrackers to celebrate Diwali.
As per to the environment ministry, incidents related to fire are 75% and 40% lower in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, so far but that may not be a reason to cheer. This year the paddy grown in Punjab in summer was sown late by a week, while both Punjab and Haryana in end-September witnessed unseasonal rains, which has delayed harvesting by about 10 days because of a rise in crop moisture levels. Air quality is probably to worsen as more farmers begin harvesting.
Usually, the Farmers in Punjab and Haryana burn the paddy straw after combine harvesters leave 7-8 inch stubble on the field following harvest, and the field has to be prepared by farmers for the planting of the wheat crop in two to three weeks. As the straw cannot be fed to cattle, the way out is the on-field management of stubble by using machines like straw management system, mulchers, rotavators, and happy seeders.
It has been announced by the central and state government that on the purchase of these machinery there will be 50-80% subsidy but have seen limited success.
“The machinery is very expensive despite the subsidy and manufacturers raised prices after these subsidies were announced. The number of machines that has been purchased on subsidy will not even cover 10% of Punjab’s paddy area… besides it costs farmers over ₹5,000 per acre for straw management by rented machines.” –Jagmohan Singh, a farmer leader
A direct financial assistance of ₹200 per quintal of paddy harvested to account for straw management expenses is been demanded by farmers in these states. As per the agricultural ministry, in Punjab, Haryana and UP every year 23 mt of paddy straw is burnt, pushing up carbon dioxide levels in the air by 70%, triggering respiratory problems.
Farmers are a powerful constituency in Punjab and in other straw-burning states such as Haryana, and there are roughly 2 million farmers in Punjab alone.
“The number of farmers is so large that we cannot take very harsh measures.” –Kahan Singh Pannu, agriculture secretary in Punjab
According to the Punjab government, in 2016 there were 81,000 fires after the rice harvest, then in 2017, the figure dropped to 44,000. There had been 509 fires this year — but the crucial period for burning will come later this month.
PARALYSIS ATTACKED AUTHORITIES?
“It’s not always easy for the government to step into sensitive issues like banning fireworks on Diwali but it works for us and others if the court decides to step in on this.” –a senior official in BJP, who declined to be identified in line with government policy
“The situation is going to be grim. You cannot have something monitored solely by the Supreme Court whose ruling last year can be seen only as a stop-gap arrangement.” –Ritwick Dutta, an environment lawyer associated with the not-for-profit Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment
“We can plan better if we have advance information on air quality. Last year, we were caught surprised when a dust storm from Gulf countries led to spike in pollution levels. This year, at least we would be able to forewarn people and take proactive measures.” –Harsh Vardhan, environment minister
“It is difficult to predict how bad it is going to be. Right now, from the satellite images we can see some (stubble) burning but end October will be the real test of government measures.” –Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment
“It’s not that these are poor, illiterate, information-starved people who are doing a bad thing and if only we educate them, they’ll do the right thing. If people are really serious about tackling [the problem], they have to come up with an economically viable solution.” –Aseem Prakash, director of the Center for Environmental Politics at the University of Washington
Shopkeepers in trade claim that on Diwali setting off firecrackers is a part of an ancient Tradition and the apex court must respect the sentiments of Hindus.
A spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga said that he would personally distribute firecrackers if the Supreme Court decides to put a ban on the sale of fireworks on Diwali.
“There should be a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers, and not only on Diwali. I think it’s hypocrisy to target Hindu festivals like Diwali.” –Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga
Maheshwar Dayal Sharma, the fifth generation of his family to sell firecrackers, sitting outside his shop in Delhi’s old city area, deplored that in 2017 he sold only 10 percent of his inventory because of the court ban. He mentioned that Diwali is celebrated only once a year and the impact lasts only for a couple of days.
“Please don’t blame us for the mess that is a result of a combination of factors like industrial and vehicular exhaust.” –Maheshwar Dayal Sharma
Now the question that arises is who really cares, about Delhiites amidst such critical conditions? Well unfortunately even Delhiites don’t care about the worsening air quality. It seems that they are comfortably okay with the hazardous situations that they will face during these four months.
Three children appealed in 2016, to the Supreme Court to put a nationwide ban on firecrackers, to which the Supreme Court rejected. Then again in 2017, another appeal reached to Supreme Court and Supreme Court put a ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR during Diwali.
But Delhi will remain Delhi! And none can resist Delhiites from doing what they want. Loopholes in the system helped them a lot in contributing to “make Diwali crackers waali” and it concluded in a thick layer of smog, in the atmosphere of Delhi, which was already full of poisonous elements.
Come on! We want the government to think about us and we can’t even think about ourselves for once? During Diwali, Delhi used to spend crores of rupees on firecrackers. Okay, we get that crackers are a part of the festival but we can buy it in little amount also.
Winters have not even started but we are already facing the risk of poisonous air quality that we breathe in. It is not happening for the first time that we came across to such exaggerated pollution in National Capital. In 2015, the government announced the new traffic rule of Odd and even which was later implemented in 2016 and continued in the year of 2017. The invention of such rule was only the result of hazardous pollution in the air.
Every year we burn the statue of Ravan on Dussehra, but we ever realized that what are we gaining after burning his statue? Only pollution and smog all around. Definitely, he symbolizes negativity and while burning his statue we denote that positivity always wins over negativity, but that really finishes the negativity within us? Instead of burning his statue every year why don’t we work on our own self?
Diwali is just around the corner and we all know that as it arrives we are going to burn crackers and as well as our pockets. What will it give us? Merely a temporary fun. But think about the long-lasting impact it leaves in nature. The fun is temporary but the impact is long-lasting.
We always accuse the government of not doing anything but at least we can do our bit. Ever the realization evolved within, that what Delhi are we leaving behind for our future generation?