"I'd never felt afraid of pollution before and never wore a mask no matter where. But when you carry a life in you, what she breathes, eats and drinks are all your responsibility; then you feel the fear." — Chai Jing, Chinese journalist and environmental activist
As sunshine filters through the house, perforating the bleakness of an otherwise perfectly frigid winter morning, I rummage through my purse for an essential accessory.
Engrossed in my pursuit, I fail to register a faint tug at my sleeves. It is only when I hear a muffled groan that I halt my tedium, and what I see dismays me. My daughter's face is wrapped in the "essential accessory". After removing her decoration—the mask on her face—she rushes off for her daily frolic. I shout out after her, ordering that her protection be put on. She barely makes it to the corridor before her infectious laughter is punctuated by some harsh coughing. That is the signal for her inhaler to be brought out.
A government that prides itself on eliciting constant feedback on it programmes has so far been inept at disseminating information on good practices.
And it dawns upon me that the city I love may not be kind towards my loved ones, after all.
In the past Delhi has played host to settlers from far corners of the globe, who have each greatly enriched our capital. Not anymore, it seems. Despite the warm hospitality of our citizens, corporate behemoths like IKEA are shifting their operations to locations with cleaner air. In 2015, a New York Times reporter left Delhi amidst a huge furor, as he declared the city to be unlivable. While the arrogance of the developed world is unpardonable, we as citizens and most importantly as parents, should press our government for enacting measures that can allow our progeny to grow healthily, right here in our own city.
A government that prides itself on eliciting constant feedback on it programmes has so far been inept at disseminating information on good practices. This has manifested in people remaining unaware of the recent ban on plastic bags in the city. Meanwhile, the rampant burning of garbage continues unabated, and punitive measures are suggested to curb an unhealthy practice, which can be better controlled if the government apprises people of the harms involved. Also AAP has shown complete apathy towards people's desire to reduce pollution, as faulty CNG kits are flooding the market. Their installation by a multitude of bona fide customers worsens our environment.
While AAP is still grappling with frameworks for mitigating pollution, we must exercise caution. For their palpable failure in supporting initiatives for betterment of public health, which resulted in unprecedented fatalities due to vector borne diseases, does not inspire much confidence. Gauging the government's facile attempt at controlling pollution till now, it is sincerely hoped that a similar round of ineffective experiments is not unleashed in the capital. To ensure this, we as citizens must not abet any aggravations, and encourage socially responsible behaviour that can reduce our contribution to the mess. For starters, we can carpool, and desist from travelling alone in a single vehicle. This rationing should reduce the amount of carcinogens, especially benzene, which are spewed into the atmosphere.
It is my earnest request to both the Central and the AAP governments to usher in a breath of fresh air that they had both promised...
Simple measures like discouraging the disposal of litter without proper segregation, and promoting recycling amongst our children can provide some relief. This in conjunction with petitioning our concerned municipal corporations and development authorities for proper waste disposal, and a complete prohibition on burning of waste in public, should be our priority.
While we question our representatives, let us not forget the anguished plea of six little children whose demand from the government in general and society in particular, was simple: Let us breathe. I was aggrieved by the helplessness that compelled these innocent souls to knock on the court's door. Ideological and political loyalties aside, it is my earnest request to both the Central and the AAP governments to usher in a breath of fresh air that they had both promised, and confront this struggle for the war that it is. We owe this not to our political destinies but to the future of our children.