What once used to be a place of respite, has now turned into a concrete jungle of buildings, expressways and highways. The green and clean Delhi which everybody admired as a child is now plagued by vehicles emitting toxic and pollutive gases. Breathing clean air in Delhi is now a distant dream, as statistics reveal how the inevitable inhalation of these gases causes severe lung damage to residents even before they reach adulthood.
Simply living in Delhi makes one’s lungs age faster, and exposes one’s body to chronic respiratory diseases like asthma. Several children are forced to breathe with the aid of an oxygen pump from a very young age, because the elasticity of our lungs is gradually falling; forget about uncontrolled climate change which may wipe us off planet earth a few decades down the line, the mental stress which individuals face due to traffic, air and noise pollution, is making it difficult to survive in the city even now. Times seem to have changed for the worst, as people can frequently be seen wearing sanitary masks not only in hospitals or day-care centres, but even on the streets, in schools and colleges. An vital function of one’s body is at risk, and one cannot do anything except ‘gradually’ work towards making a change. However, it is a disturbing realisation that while this positive change is gradual, the negative effects are immediate.
The times when one would wander into public parks and enjoy their greenery have been left far behind– there has been a complete erasure of such green spaces, and what persists is only a set of artificial surroundings deliberately installed to give people a sense of the past, while undeniably failing to do so; one can hear a large number or metros coming in every 2 minutes. Only certain green areas of Delhi have been left untouched. However, even these locations are being tampered due to the increasing government projects to construct underground traffic control projects, bridges, highways, and metro stations. Trees are being cleared off ruthlessly, and one only has enough power to be a mute observer. While it is true that with the growing population, development also has to grow, we need to ask ourselves and the government– is there no limit to this development? And more importantly, when this development is clearly proving to be too expensive in terms of consequences, must we follow this blusterous path to the future?
While some people may think that such development is necessary to secure India’s position among the world of nations, some have also been able to decipher the true destructive nature of this process which is leading humans to their own destruction. However, in terms of implementation and population growth, the sustainability of development will never have easy answers, and remains, officially, a dilemma. For theoretically, one can easily argue against this ongoing development, but practically, challenges posed by an increasing population with an increasingly consumerist mindset pushes forward development while complaining about it.
One can only find respite in the fact that this development might also help us undo its own evils; one can definitely hope for cleaner and better technologies to be invented in future which will eventually be able to undo the damage caused in the present. But, do humans have that much time to wait for the change to happen, or is it too late for the damage to be reversed? Therefore, it becomes all the more imperative to act now, and soon.
Pictures Credits : mapsofindia