Diwali done, crackers burst, the sweets eaten. And now we face the consequences of polluting our air with crackers, burning stubble in the fields, using far more vehicles than a city can sustain, industrialising and not managing the waste that we generate. Delhi pollution levels have brought the scare squarely in our face.
Right now, Delhi-NCR region is choking. That’s nearly 30 million people breathing in air that’s at ‘Severe plus’ level. Can we even imagine standing behind an idling truck that’s giving out noxious fumes and breathing it all in? No, that would be suicidal. Now think the air quality of Dilli, the heart of India is like that of a gas chamber with the residents gasping for breath.
Even at other times, the #DelhiAirQuality is the worst of all the major cities in the world. Poor air quality irreversibly damages the lungs of 50% of children. Air pollution levels spike far beyond acceptable levels during winter months when Delhi is routinely enveloped in dense, toxic smog.
Why have we brought things to this? It’s not that we are not aware of environmental pollution. Climate change summits have been talking about the drastic consequences that we will have to face sooner than we expect. It’s no longer a race to save the planet and environmental resources for our children. Instead, it’s a race for ourselves – to sustain ourselves while we are alive and to be able to pass on a ‘liveable’ ecosystem for the next generation.
Why are we here? Why hasn’t awareness led to action? Why haven’t we come together collectively to start a revolution that would save us? Why do wait around for the next person to take action rather than doing our bit on an individual level?
These questions have uncomfortable answers because Delhi pollution has made us see our folly and our half-hearted actions for what they are – just not enough to halt or even slow the pace of destruction that we have brought upon ourselves.
We hold aloft the torch to our children, hoping they would come forward and achieve all that we haven’t been able to do. Let us be the wind beneath the wings of all Greta Thunbergs of the world. More than that, let us set an example and guide our children so that the ‘awareness talks’ lead to concrete steps that actually show results.