Multi-column headlines of many widely circulated dailies may or may not have choked the readers, taking in their strides reports of the country’s economic slowdown, abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, action by the sleuths of the Central Government’s ED (Enforcement Directorate) questioning political heavy-weights, nature’s fury causing unprecedented disaster affecting people in unmanageable numbers, criminal acts victimising lay people, even committing murders for trivial reasons, unending verbal spats among the politicos in many States creating conditions not suitable to carry on stable administration, such as in Karnataka and Maharashtra, but the National Capital Region is currently witnessing choking in a more serious sense of the term. Headlines reading “Indian lungs under extreme stress” and “High demand for air purifiers in the capital,” may set the people of other regions in general and their counterparts in Mysuru and surroundings wondering about the exact import of the media reports. Steep decline in the quality of ambient air, a gift of nature taken for granted, and soaring prices of food articles provide the greatest contrast between two phenomena.
Talking of air pollution, alongside pollution of water bodies, notably lifeline-rivers and even lakes that sustain water table, due to unchecked letting of effluents from industries manufacturing toxic chemicals and emission by motorised vehicles witnessing never-before density in urban spaces has turned a joke, but the current scenario in the nation’s capital is a cruel joke.
As the National Capital Region’s headcount of more than two crore continued to reel under unabated air pollution for the past many days, triggering serious health concerns among all sections of society, more in case of school-bound children, the demand for air purifiers has soared to the extent of supply in the market falling manifold short of requirement, apart from shooting up the consumer price of the cannisters. Early warning about the impending trouble with air quality began to be sounded even last year, when it was realised that the offending factor was particulate matter 2.5 in the air blowing across the capital from the agricultural fields of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, where the farmers follow the practice of setting fire to the crop residue.
In addition to the afflictions already bugging the diaspora, the ongoing act of farmers not heeding the order of the Government to discontinue burning of crop residue of wheat and rice, the people of the capital are battling with Acute Respiratory Infections as a result of unchecked stubble trouble. Utilising the stubble for producing bioethanol is on the cards, according to reports, raining hopes of better days.