Life in the world's most polluted city

Alarming situation

One can quit smoking, give up alcohol, exercise daily and even eat right to stay fit. But, what if one has to give up breathing? Sounds scary?

At least the current scenario is such that breathing is now fraught with many hazards. According to a recent survey by the Yale University, it has emerged that the national capital, Delhi is the world’s most polluted city beating Beijing.

Further according to the report, Delhi’s air pollution is twice that of Beijing, which results in the infamous smog that hangs low over the City for days. And this rising level of pollution in the City seems to have so far been ignored by the government agencies.

The report also says that Delhi’s air pollution levels have risen to an alarming 44
per cent since last year and it is caused mainly due to vehicular and industrial emissions. Alarmingly, a whopping 1, 400 vehicles are added to Delhi roads every day.

Citing the main cause for pollution, environmentalist Govind Singh, says, “This situation is caused mainly due to the increase in the number of vehicles in the City. People are not working to reduce that but they are rather enhancing the infrastructure for car owners like building flyovers. Government should improve the public transport system so that people use them more often. Car pooling can be one option for office goers if they want to avoid the public transport.”

“Also, the Delhi Ridge which is known as the ‘green lungs’ is under threat due to degradation and encroachment. The government doesn’t even know the boundary of the ridge area. Then comes the policing on pollution certificates which are easily available with the help of some cash,” adds Govind.

As per the report by the university, on the green index, India is worse than all the other BRICS nations – China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. India has also been found to perform below the global average on biodiversity and habitat protection. And India’s low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and high population has been found to further increase India’s environmental challenges.

Anumita Roy Chaudhary, executive director, research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), says, “The momentum of action on this issue is lost somewhere. Stringent actions are missing by the government to curb this problem. We need a second generation focused plan to check motorisation policy, parking policy, congestion reduction policy and also work on the public transport system. Also, the government should check the daily air quality and release a health advisory every month depending on that report.”

If the data is alarming, so are the health problems caused by pollution. About two in every five people in Delhi complain of respiratory problems and this might just increase keeping in mind the current scenario.

Dr Ratan Kumar Vaish, senior consultant, respiratory, Rockland Hospital, says, “Pollution affect infants and elder people the most because their immunity is less. Pollution can cause respiratory problems, it can harm the skin and eyes too.

And people with breathing issues should avoid heavy traffic and densely polluted areas. Even construction sites can cause fungal infection. People having diabetics, kidney problems or even HIV are the most vulnerable and pollution can be life threatening
for them.”

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