It was a tough decision for orthopaedic surgeon Balvinder Singh to quit his job at Central government hospital Safdarjung and move to Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh who was living with his wife and two daughters in the Safdurjung Hospital campus said that he could not risk the life of his family by staying in Delhi. “Delhi’s air is slowly killing us all and I am saying this from my experience as a doctor. I made the decision on quitting Delhi last year when similar smog covered the city and finally could shift from here in April this year,” Singh told Lokmarg from Udhampur.
Delhi’s maddening traffic and poisonous air pushed him find to a job in a state-run hospital at Udhampur before shifting. “The decision to move was not easy for the family but I did it to ensure a healthy life for my two-year-old and six-month-old daughters. Kids are most vulnerable of all as Delhi’s air can cause everlasting respiratory problems,” said Singh, adding that the relocation will appear fruitful after a few years when he sees his kids healthy.
Safdurjung’s doctor is not alone in seeking cleaner air as foodie cum TV anchor Mayur Sharma, of Highway on My Plate fame, pulled his two young children out of school and moved to Goa for three months. However, after returning to Delhi, they came to the decision that it was time to leave the city for good.
“It was not easy to uproot ourselves. I was leaving a house I’d stayed in since 1976, which I shared with my parents. We took the decision that at least my wife and children are going to move out of this gas chamber, move to a cleaner environment for a period of two to three months till January when the air is really bad,” Sharma said.
He didn’t just abandon Delhi but also worked to raise awareness to clean up its pollution as part of an NGO, Care for Air. Sharma insists there is a right to breathe. “I mean, the right to breathe is the most fundamental right more than food, more than water. And that right is being seriously compromised right now,” he said.
Many residents have realised that despite their best efforts, measures at this point are limited and it will take some time for the government to come up with long-term solutions to the problem. Facebook user Salahuddin Ayyub while bidding adieu to national capital wrote, “Leaving Delhi today. Communal Smog is one of the reasons. I call it a ‘Communal Smog’ because parties and voters are enjoying hate and these deadly issues have no political space. Development is not at all our issue. We are happy living in garbages as long as our leader belongs to our religion and sect. Have fun Delhi. Take care of your lungs. Good Bye #delhismog #CommunalSmog #leaveDelhi”
A 35-year-old Gorakhpur resident, Reshma, was admitted to the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital after her health condition deteriorated post-Diwali celebrations. Reshma is still unable to speak properly and has moved to her hometown after being admitted to the hospital for over a week.
Explaining Reshma’s health condition, her doctor told Lokmarg that around two years back, she had lung surgery and post-treatment she was responding well, not even using inhalers. “Post-Diwali, she was diagnosed with pneumonia attacks. She has been recommended nebulizers, which she not used after her lung surgery,” the doctor said.
The shroud of smog engulfing New Delhi has not only rattled its residents but alarmed countries over the safety of their people living in the capital. Embassies in Delhi have employed a series of measures for the safety of their employees. These included sealing building envelopes, supplementary air filtration, and constructing vestibules to provide clean air in our workspaces.
Centralised air purifiers have been installed in schools and vital offices of some of the embassies. Expats who choose to stay are trying to spend their time indoors.