New Delhi (CNN) – Gulpreet Singh orders food on a dirty jute mat spread on the sidewalk outside the South Campus subway station in New Delhi.
Like the millions of Indians who survive by begging or wages, this 84-year-old says he has no choice. Breathing thick smoky air in the Indian capital.
“I’m waiting to come here. Sometimes people feed me,” Singh says, his voice exploding a few meters away from the noise of motorcycle taxis and smoking cars.
New Delhi is often ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world in terms of air pollution “Dangerous” conditions in early NovemberAccording to the National Air Quality Index (ICA) of India, it records the presence of harmful particles in the air.
But some people living in New Delhi are so accustomed to the old air that it is part of their daily lives – they say they do not notice it.
Others say it makes them sick.
Choked by smoke
Pollution levels have become “unbearable” this winter, according to a police official directing traffic at one of New Delhi’s busiest crossings.
“I take off my mask because I have to blow the whistle to stop traffic, but it’s scary,” says the 48-year-old agent, who did not release his name because he did not have the authority to speak to the media.
Exhaust gases flow from the rows of vehicles around it; He says he has difficulty breathing.
“My eyes hurt. It’s hard for me to breathe. It’s not easy,” he says.
Social worker Neelam Joshi, 39, says she feels polluted every time she leaves her home to go to work on the train.
“When you leave home in the morning, that’s what strikes you first,” Joshi said. At the end of the day, he seems to have embraced his body, but the next day, he says everything will happen again.
“In the last six years that I have lived in Delhi, pollution has never been reduced,” he says. “It increases every year. Every year it reaches different levels, and it always gets worse during festivals.”
Amanpreet Kaur, 28, a flight attendant from Rohini, New Delhi, recently flew in from the United States and was amazed at the difference in air quality.
“When I landed in India, after my flight from the US, it was horrible. I could not stop coughing,” he said.
Kaur says the smog is as bad as the polluted fog at night around streetlights and car headlights.
“When the sun goes down, all you see is smoke, and there is smoke all around,” Kaur said.
Living in Delhi is very dangerous.
“My Right to Breathe”
Aditya Dube, an 18-year-old environmental activist, has been urging New Delhi to take urgent action against pollution for two years.
Every year, the city is destroyed by cloudy smoke that hurts the throat, but in the winter it gets worse, with lower temperatures and faster wind speeds trapping particles in the air for longer.
“Winter has become a nightmare and seems like a punishment every day,” says Dube. “I have a burning sensation in my eyes and they start to get watery. I have shortness of breath.”
Last month, New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tried to control the level of pollution by banning fireworks on the so-called Deepavali festival, but in most cases the celebrations went smoothly.
The Diwali smoke increased as more crop residues were burnt in the surrounding agricultural lands.
As on November 5, there were over 500 ICAs in most parts of New Delhi, the highest level in the world. At the time, Dubai was adequate.
The activist petitioned the Supreme Court that his “right to breathe” be protected.
The court ruled in his favor on November 15 and ordered the federal government to do more.
Following that, schools were closed, essential traffic was halted, construction was halted, and six of the eleven coal plants were ordered to close by the end of November.
Construction projects resumed on Monday as New Delhi saw some improvement in air quality. But for many the damage is already over.
Last year, nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world were in India, according to the IQAir surveillance network.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly as a result of an increase in deaths from heart disease, cancer and respiratory infections.
The old wind would shorten the life span of millions of Indians by up to nine years. According to a study University of Chicago Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) Recent Report.
The study also found that each of India’s 1.3 billion residents endures an average annual pollution level that violates WHO guidelines.
In 2019, the Central Government of India announced a National Clean Air Campaign with the aim of reducing particulate pollution by up to 30% by 2024. Specific plans were developed for each city; In New Delhi, Those plans include activities Reduce road traffic, burning and road dust, and encourage the use of cleaner fuels.
But in recent years, India’s pollution problem has worsened due to the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and especially coal.
In New Delhi, harmful winds kill tens of thousands of lives each year, according to an analysis of Greenpeace’s IQAir data. But despite the bad air quality, some residents of New Delhi have become so accustomed to not noticing it.
Many roam the streets without a mask and develop a general sense of satisfaction with the level of pollution. Omprakash Mali, a 50-year-old gardener, says air pollution does not affect himself or his work.
“As a gardener we work with mud and dust so I don’t feel anything extra,” he said. “I think the government’s top priority should continue to be Govt-19. Pollution occurs every year.”
Shesh Babu, 18, a physical worker, said he was “not really worried” about the thick smoke of New Delhi. Making money is your number one priority.
Dubai, an activist, says air pollution is considered an “elitist” issue.
“Air pollution is a quiet killer,” he says. “There is a lack of awareness and people do not realize how serious it is.”
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