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Back are THOSE days !! Its Emergency in effect...

I wake up one morning from my comfy bed at the hotel, brew my morning coffee and switch on the TV to catch on what is latest from back home. It seems something pretty terrible is happening as the flash news alerts talk about some sort of emergency been declared, schools being closed, people advised to stay indoors and curbs on several rights – like the movement of vehicles, construction activities, and production – imposed. Well, anyone would be anxious to know what sort of emergency has gripped your home city which was all in order before the carefree sleep you went to about half a dozen hours ago. Apparently, it was the gradually becoming usual winter phenomena for the capital city of India – a nauseating cloud of dust and particles being stranded in lower levels of the atmosphere. If you hadn’t guessed by now, Smog is back to Delhi and so is an article on it on your humble blog! Yeah, this is a delayed response of sorts but I too realized the graveness only when I landed at our swanky Terminal 3 of the Indira Gandhi Airport amidst extremely low visibility and touchdown only thanks to those funky CATS – they say it is a technical term but I have come to know that these cats anyway have wonderful powers to make things happen.

Well this immediately reminded me of days about a year ago when one would cough more than breath, one would suffocate more than living and one would rub eyes more than blinking. Somewhere around Diwali last year we had a similar occurrence of Smog where the crackers were blamed as much as the other “critical” factors for the occurrence and mere mortals took the blame for celebrating festivals with its true traditional fervor. This year we had a ban on that part of celebrations and it indeed subdued itself to a large extent and yeah – the festival itself decided to advance its descent to ensure it clears itself of the blame. However what did not change was that cloud of smoke, Smog. It comes in its true worst form and haunts the residents of the city which prides itself in being the capital of this great country.
“We did talk about smog last year too and here is a quick reference if you are interested in what we said last year” - When Whether Kills - SMOGging Across Globe
What is so different today than yesterday? Nothing Really!
So how does pollution suddenly becomes an emergency when the world is talking about global warming and gradual move to the polluted atmosphere that we are headed to. It isn’t sudden that pollution became a reality for this city. It would more relate to livening of an old adage – “Seeing is believing”. While pollution may be an everyday phenomenon, gradually worsening ofcourse but what this is today is simply a visual presentation of that phenomenon. Because of climatic conditions coupled with some seasonal activities, the poisonous smoke fails to find its way to higher reaches of the atmosphere and find itself stranded at our eye-level to catch our attention – something similar to how the super marts try to put the products with most premium at eye level to catch customer’s attraction. Well it has succeeded and we are paying attention.

By the way, we did pay attention last year too, what if our attention span is too short.
We did try a lot of measures last year and announced many more and promised ourselves that we would do more on our part to ensure that this does not recur. I heard we were going to vacuum clean our roads and sprinkle waters on soil covered grounds. We definitely had a partial ban on vehicles through the (in)famous Odd-Even Scheme. I had a few friends driving the oil guzzlers worried about them being banned from roads. And yeah, no construction activity without proper provisions to prevent particles from getting into the atmosphere. And then some more.

To what extent did we succeed? The smog – more intense and poisonous than last year – is the one word answer to that question. Wait – did we forget to actually implement some of those things? No, we just thought they were no longer required as soon as we could not see that gaseous collection after the first rain and so our belief in the reality of pollution had a short life. And so we just thought let’s avoid some discomfort to everyone and leave it for when we see that again to believe it.

Who is to blame? Us or Politicians? Are politicians really different from us…

I for one am definitely surprised on why the Union Government is silent on this issue for so long. There are at least three states which have closed schools and published advisories. Masses obviously are bearing the brunt while crying foul every day. We already have once Chief Minister trying to meet his counterparts and being denied the opportunity – that is what my Twitter feed says even if it’s not true. My understanding so far of Indian system was that when a problem pans across state boundaries, it is the mandate of the central government to take the baton and bring everyone to table. It does not seem to be the case this time. I guess it isn’t needed as I heard my union minister in-charge of environment saying that “It does not actually kills you and only may impact your health” and that “we can't get it away by a Surgical Strike.” There we have it – a military term to the rescue of the poor minister.

It seems that surgical strike is what comes to the rescue of this government whenever a crisis erupts. But does this situation need a surgical strike. The term make me believe that it is related to a quick solution to rapidly developing scenario but this situation was known almost an year earlier if not more. I am not sure of what measures have been implemented since then to help prevent this and I refuse to believe that if something would have been done, the government failed to publicize it as part of a media blitz.

Well more locally, in our own Delhi, we were promised the world when it came for provisions for reducing pollution. The list was long and exhaustive of sorts and number of items which did not see the light of day is as long as the original list. Hopefully putting blame was not on the list else we have that one item ticked off. But still the government in that state seems to be making noise. What about the other two immediate administration around it – Haryana and Uttar Pradesh should have been somewhat if not equally concerned. Gurgaon is not immune to the phenomenon and what I have heard is Noida is worst affected. Given these two cities are a major revenue source for respective states, it is strange that those governments are least concerned. Is it only a party things since incidentally we have common power center for these states at the 7 RCR….ahh it is now 7LKM and the resident is seldom in his jurisdiction so probably the smoke did not reach him.

But why blame those at the helm when we on the ground do not seem to care itself. If you are on a drive today, look around yourself at any traffic signal. How many cars do you see with a single passenger? Isn’t your car one of those? Did it need this fuel guzzler to take you for this simple grocery trip or could you have opted for a lesser polluting option. Did you ever try taking a bag to the grocery rather than pushing the poor vendor to shell out a polybag on every visit? How many times did you have that air conditioner on just because it was there hanging on the wall? And did you not buy that large refrigerator just because it looked good? Yeah – “I pay that environment tax or cleanliness tax or what not to shrug off my duties” is not enough. Take onus to gain benefits – it’s your future generations which are at stake.

What do we do for now? Avoid breathing seems to work or so I have heard

All my screens are filled with advertisements for these air purifiers which have this wonderful property to sanitize homes. And then there are these masks priced as high as 4 figures. Are they effective? Maybe. Are they affordable? Not for most of us. Is it a marketing genius? For sure. There isn’t a very straightforward solution to this straight problem. For now, not breathing this air and avoiding exposure to it seems to be the best possible solution. If you can, avoid venturing out and stay indoors. If you are in a car, try using the re-circulation of air option rather than fresh external intake option. If you a lucky soul, take a break or work from outside the city – most managers in organizations would be accommodating if it doesn’t hamper your productivity. If you are allergic or prone to breathing issues, take precautions and consult your doctor.

Well, I know any or all of these would be pretty difficult to put to practice and you would just say I am a pseudo-intellectual elitist rambler blabbering my frustration out. Well to tell you the truth, you could so easily be called an Omniscient or “Antaryami” and to some or large extent you would be bang on. However, whatever be the ifs and buts, the bottom line is - We made our bed and we need to sleep in it – at least tonight. The solace lies in fact that for now it seems there is a tomorrow and we can probably arrange the bed some better for tomorrow.

Do you have quick fixes to save yourselves from this menace? How do you avoid this poisonous cloud? Do you agree with my rant? Feel free to share your views in comments and I assure you of a response.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome work.Just wished to drop a comment and say i'm new your journal and adore what i'm reading.Thanks for the share


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