Gas Chamber: 'Delhi's air is killing us all'

For 38-year-old Dr Balvinder Singh, it was the concern about the long-term health of his two daughters that led him to pack up and leave the Capital and the hard-to-get job he had there. He lives and works in Udhampur now, a life that is fresh in more ways than one.

It was a tough decision for me to quit my job at the prestigious Central government hospital Safdarjung and move to Jammu and Kashmir. People work really hard to get an opportunity to work at Safdarjung, but I said goodbye to this premier institution in order to save my family. I was staying with my wife and two little daughters in the Safdarjung campus but I could not risk the life of my family by staying in Delhi further. Delhi’s air is slowly killing us all, and I am saying this from my experience as a doctor. I have seen patients with severe lung infections, breathing issues and multiple other problems which are either caused due to inhaling poisonous air or get aggravated by it. I made the decision to quit Delhi in 2016 when smog had choked the city, and we finally shifted out in April 2017. The smog that covered the entire city in a blanket of thick smoke was a warning of us. It is impossible to think to ask my kid to stay at home or to wear a mask before leaving home. There is a constant fear that an invisible killer is outside waiting ready to attack anyone. The question I faced was: what kind of life am I going to give to my family? We now live in Udhampur. Delhi’s maddening traffic and poisonous air made me find a job in a state-run hospital before shifting there. The decision to move was not easy for the family but I did it to ensure a healthy life for my two-year- and six-month-old daughters. It was tough to leave our friends and colleagues back in Delhi and start a fresh life, but we should also accept that we are blessed by God to get this life and it is our responsibility to be fit and healthy. Children are most vulnerable of us all as Delhi’s air can cause everlasting respiratory problems. After a few years when I will see my kids healthy, the relocation will have been the right decision.
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