Every poisonous breath we take...

Every poisonous breath we take...

Satpal Singh was forced to make a stop at a water storage facility, before leaving for work on Wednesday morning after he found the tap water at his flat full of mud.

The water storage unit, a facility of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), provides water to several areas in south-east Delhi, including the posh Kalkaji locality where Singh and many more like him believe that the muddy water is one of the problems faced by people due to the dust that envelops the entire area.

“There are times when water purification units installed at our homes fail to filter the water,” Singh told Metrolife while standing guard at the 15,000 litre water storage tank.

A DJB official who was busy pouring chlorine into the same tank said that two-three litres of the chemical has to be mixed in the water to ensure it is fit for usage.

“The water does not have a great quality and the dust makes it worse. Even though the storage unit is foolproof and there are hardly any chances of external toxic agents entering into the tank, the dust finds its way,” the official said.

“There is dust everywhere. On the trees, cars, shops, it’s like there is an invisible source which pumps dust into the area,” said a security guard of one of the apartment buildings in the same locality.

According to Gopal Krishna, head of the Toxics Watch Alliance, the ‘invisible source’ is actually the growing commercialisation of residential areas.

Speaking to this paper Krishna also mentioned that he has recently written to Justice K G  Balakrishnan, chairman, National Human Rights Commission about the grave health issues people faced by people living in areas like Okhla, Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi colony.

“More than 80 doctors from Holy Family Hospital in Okhla and some other hospitals across the city have written open letters raising concerns about emissions from the Okhla waste-to-energy plant. In their letters, written on individual letterheads, doctors have said polluting emissions from the plant could lead to allergies, asthma, cancers and reproductive anomalies,” reads the letter.

Metrolife caught up with one such patient who is a professor at Delhi University. “I had to move from Mangla Apa­rtments in Kalkaji to Nor­th Delhi as my asthma condition deteriorated rapidly. So­me of my colleagues who live in areas like Seelampur and Jaffarabad are facing even more problems than what I had suffered. In these areas, the unwarranted heavy construction work of buildings and Metros is causing serious health problems for the people,” the professor said requesting anonymity.

According to Krishna, the exact number of patients can never be calculated as most of them cannot even afford to report their medical ailments to the hospital.

“This is not only dust but a toxic cocktail of organic pollutants and suspended particulate matter. The pr­o­­blem remains persistent be­­cause of the two waste energy plants that have been set up in residential areas, thus multiplying the traffic by several folds. The government policy and approach which might be aimed at managing the waste ends up producing more of it,” Krishna said.

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