The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: It is important Delhi starts early in its preparation to tackle pollution season

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story:

As residents in most other cities begin looking forward to the Diwali season enthusiastically, it is a different scenario in the National Capital. The festival, which falls on October 18 this year, has become a marker for the start of the dreaded pollution season in New Delhi.

A study released last week by the University of Chicago paints a grim picture of where pollution levels currently stand in the city. If New Delhi adhered to World Health Organisation standards on the permissible levels of particulate matter in the air, its residents could gain as much as nine years in life expectancy. Last November, PM 2.5 levels rose to almost 1000 mg/metre cube of air, which was 40 times more than the WHO standard of 25mg/metre cube. PM 2.5 levels refer to particulate matters in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometer in size and has the potential to enter the bloodstream and cause an array of diseases.

Over the last two years, the administration has done little but provide knee-jerk reactions when the air turns pungent. Delhi’s pollution problem has its origins both within and outside. Surrounded by large states where farmers complete their harvest just before the winter kicks in, the smoke in the air is increased manifold owing to the habit of crop straw burning. To reduce this problem, what is required is efficient coordination between state governments in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. However, given that the farmers constitute a big and sensitive vote bank, state governments have been reluctant to use coercive methods. There are also experts who believe the crop burning is used as an excuse by the administration and that about 80% of all pollution in Delhi originate within.

For example, cracker burning constitutes an important element in the spike in pollution levels during Diwali. The Delhi government has done little to show that this menace has been tackled firmly. In fact, even the Supreme Court, which is hearing a batch of petitions on the pollution problem, is not convinced with how the government has gone about in taking on the cracker problem. “The government has been content giving “general directions” which is “mere paperwork”. There is zero information about the success or failure of its campaigns, if at all undertaken, against bursting of firecrackers,” the court said this week.

Following court intervention, the Central Pollution Control Board did put together a graded response programme to tackle pollution earlier this year. This included an emergency response plan in case pollution breaches a certain level. Construction would be halted, diesel generators will be shut and vehicular movement would be restricted. But since January 12 when this plan came into effect, Delhi has not adhered to the WHO standards even once even though summer is the better season for pollution in the city. Was this plan put into effect even on a single day after February? If yes, residents have clearly been kept out of the loop as there was hardly any information put out in public.

What is clear from the proceedings in the Supreme Court is that the crucial aspect of coordination between agencies has been given a go by. As the court opined, authorities are functioning like islands as though pollution was no big deal. The state governments should realise that a problem like pollution can only be tackled through sustained efforts and not through stop-gap measures just before winter. Given that pollution robs a citizen of almost nine years of his life, it is a serious challenge to the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. A failure to set right the pollution problem is a serious abdication of constitutional duty.

The Big Scroll

  • Rohini Pande and Anish Suganthan on what needs to be done to take on farm fires in North India. 
  • M Rajshekhar reports on the lessons derived from Delhi’s odd-even car policy. 

Punditry

  1. Karan Thapar in Indian Express writes on the moral bankruptcy of Aung San Suu Kyi in her participation of the violence against Rohingyas. 
  2. Mathew Idiculla in The Hindu argues that subnationalism, as long as it is not secessionist, could be a constructive element in any democracy. 
  3. Biju Dominic in the Mint on the very many problems that smartphones bring to memory. 

Giggles

Don’t miss

In this latest part of Scroll’s ‘Revisiting Demonetisation’ series, Vinita Govindarajan goes back to flower markets in Chennai, where anger against Narendra Modi is still lingering.

“An unexpected fallout of demonetisation was that even the poor in Tamil Nadu had become familiar with the name of the prime minister. Struggling to make a living, and immersed in the Dravidian politics of the state, they ordinarily had little interest in the Central government in distant New Delhi. But after their hard-earned savings in cash had turned to wastepaper overnight, they suddenly woke up to its power. Narendra Modi’s name had become synonymous with demonetisation.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.