Signs of The Times!

Delhi Smog

By Humra Quraishi

I’ve been sitting rather forlorn, asking myself, ‘What living is this where I’m gasping for breath in an atmosphere riddled with pollutants of all hues and forms! Is this what’s called development? Is this what called living, where even that basic level of survival is getting to be tough …very tough!’

Yes, it’s getting hellish to survive in this capital city and surrounding suburbs. Smog is back. And back with a vengeance! It’s difficult to describe the conditions we are surviving in. There’s that perpetual layer of dust and together with that a strange mix of fumes and fog in the atmosphere. The eyes are burning, if not watering. The nose and throat somewhat choked. The lungs over -worked as breathing gets difficult… and can’t describe the slogging the heart is undertaking!

Is this the capital city or some sort of a gas chamber! The very basic survival gets difficult as a majority of us are either coughing or sneezing or wheezing. And at this juncture it’s difficult to say how long this spell will last or for that matter how long we’ll last!

Why don’t the political rulers of the day throw aside the air purifiers fitted in their rest rooms and office rooms, and then see how we, the masses, are surviving in this smog – ridden mess.

I would prefer the old emperors’ strategy of killing at one go and not like today’s political rulers who seem determine to kill us slowly yet rather too steadily. Dying that we are, day after day.

It wouldn’t be wrong to describe this prevailing situation as a medical emergency which requires an immediate solution. Remedies should be brought into force: The odd-even formula should be re-introduced, not just for weeks but for endless months, if not for years. The Metro fares be brought down to the lowest possible. Air-conditioners totally banned, together with diesel vehicles and the connected bandobast. And garbage dumps and dusty roads be sprinkled with water…If the municipalities cry ‘no staff’ for this level of watering, I would go the extent of saying that release (temporarily if not permanently) the hundreds and thousands of under- trials from prisons and jails and let them be a part and parcel of cleansing this city from all possible pollutants of the day!

There has to be a way out from this mess. No, this is no living when you cannot step out because of the smog strengthening its hold on the atmosphere. You cannot sit indoors for very long, as those everyday essentials have to be fetched from this or that market. Also, not to be overlooked the basic fact- a great majority of us have to earn our daily bread and that rather too automatically means one has to be commuting to offices or factories or furnaces…

Do we realize where we are heading! Towards health disasters! A human form born and raised in this atmosphere is sure to suffer a host of ailments that is if she or he can ever reach adolescence. Needless to add the disasters this situation is heaping on us, the not –so – young!


With the National Green Tribunal slamming the Delhi government and other concerned states and government agencies for making Delhi an Asthma capital, do we need to find who is responsible for this mess and breakdown of the very system? A strange sort of nexus holds sway, where it gets difficult if not impossible to cry out for our survival rights. Distractions are thrown in way…yes, we are heaped with all sorts of silly distractions so that we have little time or the required energy to cry out! Enough is enough. This mess has got to be settled before we reach the dying stage.

Together with the environmental pollution, there stares another offshoot: political pollution is hitting the heads of the supposed who’s who on the circuit. Last month I was taken aback hearing some of those arguments, on the ban on the sale of crackers in Delhi and in the NCR.

The political mafia was dragging along politics even in the ban on the sale of crackers. They couldn’t see thousands sitting on the verge of death because of the poisonous atmosphere. They couldn’t see sense prevailing! Here we were gasping for breath and there they were crying hoarse some petty political nonsense.

Nah, I wasn’t prepared to see this level of communal politics, where communalism seems to be seeped into the pores of those hell -bent on implementing a dangerousagenda. They are not even open to sound reasoning or sense prevailing. They couldn’t be bothered if thousands die with collapsed lungs or hearts or with damaged eyes and ears and whatever organs the human form is bestowed with.

What does one do when today’s political rulers don’t seem to give a damn to the dead and dying? All they seem interested in, is in making lofty announcements in those speeches. Speech after speech! Mind you, none of those speeches can clear the pollution or reach out to the parched and ill!

Can’t the political brigades realize that this entire environment is for one and all. We all have a right to a clean and pollution – free environment After all, our Creator created it for each one of us. He didn’t have the Hindu – Muslim factor in mind. In fact, whilst keying in, I’m reminded of what Sufi Nizamuddin Chishti had told his disciples…words along the strain, ‘Our Creator has created the sun and moon and the breeze, fruit trees and plants and grain, rivers and rivulets, for each one of us. It’s not meant for one country or for a particular community. Each living being has a right on Nature’s bounty.’