‘I Am A Pollution Refugee, Forced To Migrate From Delhi’

A Delhi citizen all her life, Priyanka Gera was forced to leave a well-settled living due to worsening air quality in the city. Gera says she has lost hope of seeing any improvement

I grew up in Delhi. I was a pure Delhiite until the birth of my daughter when I could no longer ignore the air pollution in Delhi. My husband was perpetually anxious about her wellbeing. We bought an AQI monitor and put air purifiers at every room in our house.

During winters we didn’t send her to pre-school on most of the days because the AQI used to be severe. We would escape to a hill station around Diwali. Then came a point when we no longer wanted to adjust our lifestyle according to pollution levels.

We started wearing N95 masks in 2018-19 while venturing out. Now masks are mandatory due to the pandemic and I find it funny that people still won’t wear masks despite the Covid guidelines, leave alone the poor air quality.

As the situation got worse by each passing year, in 2019, we took the tough call to leave our families, social circle and well-set careers and move to Bangalore for the sake of a better environment. Most people can’t do that or won’t do that – leave their well settled lives because of a danger that they don’t think is clear and present. So, they tell themselves various things to live with it, most vague of these reasoning is that somehow, you’ll develop strength or a kind of immunity in your body to adapt to pollution as if it were some ordinary flu germs. Yes, it’s true, I have heard this from so many people in Delhi!

ALSO READ: ‘NCR Air Is Worse Than Smoke From A Coal Mine’

Having lived in Bangalore for two years have done just the opposite. Now, every time we come to Delhi to visit our families, we get unwell. I wake up coughing every single day. No, it’s not Covid-19, it’s another lung killer that we choose to ignore – pollution!

I don’t know why most people are not anxious about the pollution affecting quality of their life. People like us are exceptions, who are willing to uproot themselves because we’ve lost hope that it can ever improve here.

Surely the government and agencies have been aware of the potential crisis since decades, that’s why CNG was introduced and Metro was planned. All industries have been sent out of Delhi. The problem is not just Delhi, it’s very much there in the neighbouring states too.

Government action is but all ‘reaction’ – nothing much is being done proactively. It takes the Supreme Court to give ultimatums to Delhi Government to take steps, now construction has been halted, schools are shut etc.

Pollution Levels Rise in NCR-Delhi

Watch – ‘Zero Concern For Air Quality At Ground Level’

As pollution levels rise in NCR-Delhi, doctors warn the spread of Covid-19 may worsen. LokMarg speaks to environmentalist Sanjeev Lakda and several residents about the rise and air pollution level, its reasons and harmful impact in pandemic times.

There is unanimity that ‘Unlock’ has spelled doom for the Capital region’s environment. With the return of industrial, vehicular and stubble-burning activities, Delhi residents are now plagued with a double-whammy of bad air and virus.

Watch the video here:

#DelhiAirPollution: It's hazardous now

#DelhiAirPollution | “Newborn gulps air equal to 25 cigarettes”: Warning on Delhi smog crisis https://t.co/e1aavnb8hA pic.twitter.com/Wk99xUFAzD

— NDTV (@ndtv) November 5, 2018 It has launched an aggressive 10-day ‘Clean Air Campaign’ from November 1 to monitor and report polluting activities and ordered halting of construction activities and regulating vehicular traffic. Civil construction has been suspended in Delhi and surrounding areas of the National Capital Region. All stone crushers and hot mix plants generating dust pollution have also been closed. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has directed the transport department and the traffic police to intensify their drive against polluting vehicles until November 10. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday that no leniency would be shown to those who are violating pollution-control norms. He again warned that legal actions were being initiated against people violating regulations. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has blamed stubble-burning in Punjab as the main reason behind the current cycle of air pollution in Delhi. On Sunday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed his claim “nonsense”. But NASA registered a large number of fire counts in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Sirsa and other areas of Punjab and Haryana. Also, enforcement data provide in response to an RTI query by activist activist Deepak Juneja has showed that despite the Delhi government deregistering 40 lakh old vehicles to curb air pollution, only 3,196 vehicles have been impounded, which is less than 1 per cent of the total. Two agencies are responsible for enforcing the ban on 15-year old petrol vehicles and 10-year old diesel vehicles imposed by the National Green Tribunal in 2014 Delhi traffic police and transport department of the Delhi government. (PTI)]]>