Foreign diplomats cry foul at Delhi's bad air

The foreign diplomatic missions based in New Delhi on Friday conveyed their concerns over growing air pollution in the national capital, to the Ministry of External Affairs.

Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Ambassador of Dominican Republic to India, had a meeting with Sanjay Verma, Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of External Affairs, and conveyed to him the concerns of the foreign diplomats and their families assigned to New Delhi over the deteriorating air quality. Castellanos is the Dean of Diplomatic Corps and represents 157 foreign missions based in the national capital.

"The diplomatic community had asked me to share some of our concerns with officials of the Ministry of External Affairs, about air pollution in New Delhi and how it is affecting the inflow of tourists from some of our countries and the daily operations of some of the missions," Castellanos said after his meeting with Verma.

'Breathe same air'

He said that the foreign diplomats based in New Delhi completely understood that the air pollution affected all the 22 million people living in New Delhi and that the issue needed to be addressed for the better future of all the people living in the city. "We all breathe the same air," said Castellanos.

Castellanos quoted Verma telling him that the Central Government was determined to address and ameliorate the environmental challenge. "We are committed to dealing with this issue, including learning from best practices emerging from countries that have traversed this experience," Verma told Castellanos, according to a press release issued by the office of the Dean of Diplomatic Corps.

The unease among the foreign diplomats based in New Delhi due to the smog over the National Capital Region last week came to public domain when Mariela Cruz Alvarez, Ambassador of Costa Rica to India, wrote a blog after leaving the city. She developed respiratory problems and travelled to Bengaluru, where she underwent "panchakarma" - a five-fold cleansing procedure at an Art of Living centre.

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