There’s A Mass Protest For Clean Air In Delhi Today

There’s A Mass Protest For Clean Air In Delhi Today
Live Law

Air pollution levels in Delhi went deep into the “emergency zone” on the morning of 3rd November, 2019, with the national capital recording an overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of 625 – the highest this year- at around 10 am. Pollution in Delhi this year is almost 400 times the amount deemed healthy, causing planes to be diverted from the city. Even a week after Diwali, the thick, brown smog that shrouded the city has shown no sign of shifting. A public health emergency was declared on Friday. Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal said that the city had turned into a “gas chamber”. By Sunday, the air quality had deteriorated further with the AQI measuring over 900 in some areas. It has far exceeded the level of 25, deemed safe by WHO, and well above even the 500 mark deemed “severe plus”. The Environmental Pollution (Control and Prevention) Authority (EPCA) has declared a public health emergency and banned construction activity till Tuesday, as well as the bursting of firecrackers in winter. An angry exchange of allegations have occurred between the governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, and the apparent lack of action on the part of the central government has enraged the citizens of Delhi.

Neeraj Sharma, 45, a businessman, said his 16-year-old son, a professional athlete, had been forced to stop his training this week because the pollution levels made it impossible to exercise. “It is very difficult to breathe in this weather, there is a bitter taste in the air,” said Sharma. “I think the government is very superficial in their approach to pollution control. For the last five years the Delhi government did nothing, but now, as an election is approaching, they are acting as if they are concerned. The Delhi government said they banned crackers in Delhi, so how come so many of them were bursting all over Delhi during Diwali? If you ask me, nothing will change, the situation will continue to go from bad to worse.”

Environmentalist Sunita Narain claimed that about 65% of pollution in Delhi is due to local sources, and merely 5-7% of it is from the stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

The citizens of Delhi are choking on the polluted air, and frustrated by the “passing the buck” politics of our political class. As a mark of protest, there would be a gathering of agitators on Tuesday, November 5 at Amar Jawan Jyoti, India Gate from 7 p.m. onwards.

The demands extended by the agitators include engaging decision-makers from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, U.P. and the Centre to call out their petty politics and work together. This is because the reasons for the acutely high pollution levels in Delhi go beyond stubble burning carried out by the states of Haryana and Punjab. Citizens’ voices are being throttled in this political playing field, and the rally at Amar Jawan Jyoti is a mark of protest to overcome that and lead the politicians to get their act together.

Tamseel Hussain, one of the members leading the protest rally says, “We’ve been suffering for more than five years. It’s not funny that air pollution is impacting our health, work and economy. This protest is about asking our leaders to be more responsible and find a solution to this mess. We are in the middle of an emergency, and masks are not (sic) going to be the new normal.”

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