Delhi today seems like London from Blake's Songs of Experience - 'sooty, choking, chartered.. marks of woe in every face'.
Delhi has this peculiar spirit of getting quite excited about doing something only to regret it later on. It has happened during elections and now it has trickled down to our festivities. Now that the nearby states are burning crops after a typical Delhiwala was busy enjoying himself by bursting firecrackers; all of us have to suffer with a deadly smog that has engulfed the capital.
The pollution levels on Saturday were contrary to the forecast by air quality monitoring department SAFAR which had said that air quality was likely to improve slowly from November 2.
When people tried raising concerns over the deteriorating air quality in Delhi, a few were quick to shut them up because they were 'tree-huggers' and against 'Hindu' festivals. Considering India's obsession with Cricket, maybe this will help them realise that they were wrong.
Players had to wear masks to be able to get on the ground in the Ranji game between Tripura and Hyderabad at the Karnail Singh Stadium. The first day of play didn't even happen because of the smog. Yes, a cricket match had players wearing masks to help protect the health of these individuals.
Delhi's CM has finally issued a statement about this situation. All schools in Delhi will remain closed for three days and road-rationing could be brought back. Desperate measures in desperate times. But is it too little, too late?
While the government has finally woken up from its slumber about the massive issue of air-pollution and we finally have them taking some measures to help keep its citizens safe. Here's the biggest and the most obvious measure - wearing masks.
It should have been one of the easiest measures to implement but the government refused to acknowledge or accept the enormity of the situation at hand.
Now that the citizens have finally embraced masks, and the frequency with which our pollution levels seem to deteriorate, we are faced with a bigger and more dire question -
Will these masks become the future of coming generations? Will the next generation of Delhi kids be forced to wear these masks every time they have to go to their schools?
A lot of things have contributed to this smog. Crop cutting and fire from Haryana and Punjab, bursting of firecrackers, anti-cyclomatic conditions, construction sites, and the 60,000 heavy trucks that are entering Delhi daily. I get the sentiment behind those who are asking for a ban of firecrackers but they shouldn't let Diwali become an excuse for everything else we do that contributes to Delhi's already alarming pollution level.
We need to realise that whatever we do now is going to have an impact on the future of our society. What are we giving our kids? Air that they can't even breathe freely? Will we literally be forced to carry portable oxygen cylinders with us?
We look for scapegoats to help massage our already inflated egos. While a certain group blames firecrackers, the other group is quick to point out the crops that are being burnt. There's almost no acknowledgment of the fact that every time we switch on the lights in our houses, we are using coal-powered electricity. Every time we are using a diesel vehicle, we are contributing to the larger problem.
Let's take some time and think about all the different options that we have. We are already living in a city that has poison in its air so now it's upon us to try and do our bit to help us better the situation. The problem is already here, we need to rethink and revaluate the way we live our lives, and address this problem head on. It's our moral responsibility towards the future generations to give them a city that is free from this toxicity.
I hope this amounts to a debate between the masses about the different viable ways we can contribute in and put a check on this. We owe to this to our own future and to the future generations' too. The time has come to walk the talk.