We came to Delhi in Aug 1997 and learnt about smog for the first time… the air was thick and there was fog+smoke, smog in the months of Dec and Jan. Then came the ban on “jugaad” rickshaws. These were people carriers that used a modified “motorbike” and used kerosene and other polluting fuel. Everyone applauded the decision and for just that year the smog seemed a little lighter. Then came the forcible conversion of buses, autorickshaws and taxis to CNG.
While we struggled with the long queues at the CNG pumps that led to a traffic snarl and the reduced number of vehicles plying as public transport, we applauded the decision and for almost two years the smog seemed less dense. I think this happened in 2001. The air quality seemed to have improved psychologically while the numbers also showed a slight dip.
The winters started shrinking (global warming??) and the crops in neighbouring Haryana continued to be burnt and the “construction” activity never slowed down. Metro arrived in 2002 with the Red line and then the VIBGYOR spectrum is nearly complete with Yellow, Pink, Blue, Orange (?), Green etc getting added at regular intervals. In 1997 the population of Delhi was approximately 12 million…. today its at 18.98 million. Not all these additional people have shelters and warm clothes. Many die in the winters every year and many others who survive burn anything that they can lay their hands on to stay warm. What you can lay your hands on easily is mounds of plastic bags/sheets/rags/paper etc.
Then the “yugpurush”, a true Modi Bhakt became the CM of Delhi. The odd man tried to get even with the gas chamber that Delhi had become in Dec 2015 by launching the famous odd-even car scheme in his own inimitable style – zero planning, and blame-Modi campaign. Bachi Karkaria famous quip sums up the experiment – “Forget car numbers. Delhi has an odd Chief Minister who wants to get even with everyone else.” I wonder why the man never tried it again in Dec 2016? Probably because it wasn’t a success as he claimed it in 2015 :):). Read this generously positive article from HT – Why Delhi’s odd-even experiment didn’t work. Thats that. While the scheme was on, the CM went to town, adding substantially to the noise pollution that it was the panacea for all ills – Delhi citizens were suddenly gulping oxygen with no trace of particulate matter or carbon di-oxide. Poor man, euphoria saps one’s energy and suddenly the Punjab elections deflated him ! never mind.
Now, we have a cracker of a ban on “SALE” of crackers. How sweet.
Disclaimer – I don’t like crackers because I have a problem with noise. All kinds of noise – loud people, loud speakers calling people for prayers, loud speakers celebrating a “mata”, cars honking, etc etc etc.
BUT – I am struggling to find the connection between a ban on the “SALE” of crackers and pollution. The plastic will burn as always, the crops will be burnt as always, the construction dust will continue to hang around, the air-conditioners will continue to work non-stop in the fancy glass buildings, people will continue to use plastic bags to wipe their asses, Coke and Pepsi will continue to vend their sweetened poison in plastic bottles, the oxygen-emitting cars will be sold during the “Diwali” sale BUT you cant buy crackers buddy.
What am I missing?? To top this a suave English man whose heart is Indian and mother-tongue is English has the audacity to tweet “pollution affects everyone”.
Before the dog-lovers come out in support of the cracker ban – please stop people from buying fancy hairy dogs that struggle to live in the hot Delhi weather or get a ban on dog shows or atleast get the dog owners to exercise the poor dog before getting behind this “cracker” SALE ban. I love dogs, I don’t want them to be scared and I am happy if burning those mega crackers is banned BUT this is just banning the SALE. I can get crackers delivered to me from Chennai. It doesn’t help my dog in any way.
Ok calm down and think for a minute – we need regulation on crackers being burst, because the pollution is crazy and the noise pollution is also unacceptable. BUT, please get after the yugpurush, Modi Bhakt CM of Delhi to fix all the other underlying causes of pollution. Bursting crackers is a tradition for Diwali – why cant we burst crackers for just two hours and only the smaller ones, not the 10000 wala and others that explode your ear drums?. That is a fair ban and no, am not running out to buy crackers. I have never bought them and I dont intend to start now. I will light the lamps and pray that good sense prevails.
Categories: Daily Reflections