“Every second we are damaging our lungs, but we cannot stop breathing,” were the words of Arvind Kumar, the head of the chest and lung surgery department at the Sir Ganga Ram hospital. Delhi’s pollution problem has been no secret, however, the problem has recently escalated to levels far from safe! The capital has been engulfed by a layer of thick fog. Visibility has been obscured to extents so bad forcing the delay and even cancellation of train and aircraft flights. Persons of all ages have been going about their daily lives wearing masks, in an effort to protect themselves, some have air purifiers in their homes or workplaces. but not all can afford this luxury.
The level of poisonous airborne particles known as PM2.5 had reached an alarming 498 on Monday whilst the upper limit of ‘good air quality’ is only 50! The smog has been blamed on various factors such as illegal crop burning, construction dust, and vehicles and other emissions. Officials are hopeful pending light rains might bring salvation and cleanse the atmosphere., allowing all the suspended particles to settle down. The PM2.5 has particles that are infinitely fine and therefore are inhaled, causing health problems, such as respiratory diseases and other ailments. Hospitals have already receiving patients with respiratory problems.
While many have had the ‘nothing out of the norm’ attitude, the Costa Rican Ambassador to India, Mariela Cruz Alvarez, also a victim to respiratory illness, has ceased the opportunity to emphasize awareness of global warming in light of the Delhi struggle. In her blog she has written, “I am sick in South India with a serious upper respiratory infection due to New Delhi’s unbreathable air. My tropical lungs couldn’t take the toll. I will be recovering and resting… It is not funny to see your lungs expelling a dark residue as if I was a smoker — which I am not. I work to bring awareness about climate change and now I feel the personal impact of our global lack of awareness. We need to wake up fast. India I love you and it hurts me to see you drowning in loads of plastic and toxic air. Where is the leadership? Clean air and water are basic human rights.” A public cry out for help from a foreign diplomat definitely necessitates a wake-up call.
Some solutions that may be implemented are:
- Solar powered heaters with battery backup can be provided in an attempt to combat the winter cold, eliminating the need for electric heaters.
- New fuels that produce less pollution. Also, CNG and electric vehicles should be considered.
- Implementation of more buses for public transport, this will reduce the number of two-wheelers on the road
- Ban the burning of crop waste, methods to produce byproducts from the waste should be given consideration. Also, farmers should be educated about the benefits of the crop waste, such as its ability to produce compost material, prevent soil erosion and return nutrients back to the soil.
- Strictly ban firecrackers!
The situation has become a health hazard, and although shutting down schools and implementing the odd even scheme, have been tried, little has improved the air quality. Doctors have now declared a public health emergency. For how long should Delhi suffer this unbreathable situation? It is time concerned parties get together for the good of everyone and find a solution.