Our daily life begins with morning wake-up, going to work, spending little time with the family, and going to bed – at a fast pace. The time we spend outside home is generally the commute to school, work, and college – and it is exposed to a lot of different things in the enviroment. To be more specific, three important elements of earth – air, water and fire – play a significant role how we live. We don’t get exposed to fire really, but the air that blankets our beloved cities is contaminated so bad; by the time we are home in the evening, we feel uncomfortable in our breathing. The traffic has increased more than 10-fold in the past few years. With the traffic, not only we have to deal with the increase in commute time but also the air pollution. The environment that we are surrounded by is no longer safe and protected, it has gone past saving the natural surroundings.
The recent headlines about the “Great Smog of Delhi” is an ongoing issue regarding air pollution. The smog has been prevalent for a few years now in different parts of the world like London, Los Angeles, Paris, Beijing, Lahore and many more. Let us first look at what ‘Smog’ is and then get into other aspects of it.
Smog is a mixture of smoke, fuels, fog and air pollutants – basically some combination of fog and smoke. It is formed due to the emissions of vehicles, industries, burning of fossil fuels like coal, etc. One of the main causes of Smog is stubble burning, which is the process of setting fire to the crop residue after the harvesting seasons. This burning releases harmful gases like nitrogen and sulphur oxide, which when inhaled causes breathlessness, asthma, allergies, irritation in eyes, and chest constriction. Another consequence of smog is that it reduces visibility which might cause major road accidents.
Delhi is struggling with high levels of air pollution because of which the city has transformed into a ‘concentration camp’ which prevailed during the Holocaust. It has basically turned into a gas chamber which has made the oxygen in the air poisonous and unfit for breathing. It also led to the drop in the visibility to almost 200 meters, which resulted in many accidents. It also caused a delay in flight and train operations. The gravity of the situation has led to shutting down of schools and workplaces for a few days. People are asked to stay back at home unless there is an absolute emergency. Due to the severity of the condition, the government has even considered bringing back the odd-even scheme in order to limit the activities of the vehicles. The odd-even scheme was initiated by the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Kejriwal, in 2016 to curb pollution levels in the city. Bringing this scheme back might not be the worst idea, given Delhi’s condition. It will restrict the role of vehicles and will help in the clearing out the air.
Delhi’s smog is being compared to “Great Smog of London” or the “Big Smoke” because it resembles the situation in London in the year 1952. It was known to be the worst air pollution event in the history of the United Kingdom which was the cause of death and illness for many people in the country. The prevailing situation in Delhi is just as horrifying as that of London’s. This situation will definitely get worse in the years to come. The geographic location of Delhi already results in the extreme conditions because of which it is too hot in summer and too cold in winter.
And now that winter has come, it also brings along the dangerous smog. In the winter, when the wind speeds are low, it helps the smoke and the fog to become stagnant as a result of which smog is formed. This, when inhaled, causes various casualties to humans, because of which it is being compared to the Bhopal gas tragedy – it is said that people are experiencing the tragedy while living in Delhi as the consequences of the Smog are probably just as bad.
It is necessary that right precautions are taken to control the air pollution in Delhi. Various schemes implemented by the government regarding these issues will definitely help in improving the conditions all around, however, it is not just the responsibility of the government to make sure that the pollutants in the atmosphere come down. Each and every citizen should make sure to diligently put efforts and work towards making their cities pollution free so they may lead a happy and healthy life.
-Contributed by Neha Koppu
Picture Credits: livemint.com