New Delhi has been the epicenter of pollution in India. Air pollution remains a chronic issue and the statistics from national and international studies are alarming and hazardous. Air Quality Monitors have consistently informed how dangerous and threatening the concentration of Particulate Matter in the air is. Besides, other pollutants that are choking the lungs of Delhiites and acting as silent killer agents are carbon monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and suspended particles.
An IIT study in partnership with University of Minnesota and University of Colorado have come up with the observation that since 1991 there had been a 100% increase in deaths in Delhi due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases linked to pollution. Delhi has a permanent layer of toxic smog and its PM 10 concentration is twice as deadly as that in Beijing. Delhi is set to be the world’s deadliest city to live in, given the pollution levels. Nevertheless, the government and civil society have been deaf and blind to this apathy.
Bursting crackers amidst such vitriolic environment is obnoxious and suicidal. Almost 11% of Delhi residents are suffering from Asthma and other respiratory diseases. Carcinogenic substances enter into the bloodstream of regular outdoor travelers which is noxious and murderous. During the month of October and November, two major incidents make the national capital, a gas chamber.
Farmers from neighboring states Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn the crop residues of their farms. This stubble burning has found no alternative despite of the heightening environmental degradation. Smoke from these killer fields rise and travel to the Delhi NCR region further exacerbating the problem. In addition to that, the festival of Diwali that holds immense significance among the majority Hindus of India, poses seemingly unavoidable and abominable problems.
As a consequence of these two events, air pollution reaches to catastrophic levels and become nightmarish for the citizens. Last year’s scenes of thick black smoke covering the entire city was a reminder of doomsday inching closer.
Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court of India has decided to put a ban on crackers in Diwali, given the “direct evidence of air quality deterioration”. Public health being a major concern, the ban is well justified. However, traders and shopkeepers are crying foul and protesting vehemently against the order. According to them, it is a direct hit to their livelihood and profit.
Festivities are a great method of sustaining and promoting culture and tradition. However, in the shadow of this centuries old legacy, health cannot be compromised so blatantly. Air pollution levels are already nasty in ordinary times due to vehicular pollution and industrial activities. Addition of cracker pollution can be life-threatening to millions of residents. Traders are looking for loopholes and the Governments are in a fix. Meanwhile, environmentalists call this a landmark judgement.
We all must unite to come together and support this ban. Crackers might be entertaining and enlivening for a short span of time, but their deleterious effects are lifelong and uncontrollable thereafter. The time has come when pragmatism needs to take over recklessness.
Article by Mausam.