I was woken up by the sound of a viral video entering my Whatsapp inbox. The peculiar sound of ‘Ping! Ping!’ woke me up like someone had just kicked my backside. I took my head out of my pillow to get some fresh air not realising that fresh air is going to be a luxury from now on in Delhi.
I checked the video that popped up in my Whatsapp inbox. It was a pile-up of a huge car accident on a highway. Almost a dozen cars smashed one after the other. People were crying and running for cover as the jam kept increasing. The video had gone viral and so had the smoky and blurred photographs of the India Gate, Taj Mahal and Humayun’s Tomb covered with a haze of smog and pollution.
Yes, the Delhi Smog was here and it had come with full gusto. We all had been pre-warned about it from the Met Department. What the hell, even the government had banned the buying of firecrackers in Delhi to lessen the impact of smog in the winters. But we are the most polluted city in the world followed by Beijing which has its equal share of fog and air pollution. It is estimated that 2 million people die premature deaths due to smog and air pollution. It is the highest cause for respiratory diseases, bronchitis, throat and lung infections. Out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, India has 12 cities. We are, by far, the most polluted and Delhi being the star with the maximum air pollution.
All websites and news portals on the net were discussing the Delhi fog and how people have been warned not to venture out from their homes. Schools have been shut down due to the rising smog. Delhi is badly affected by pollution that it has taken a toll on the day-to-day lives of its citizens.
I ambled out of my bed and then the phone rang. I picked it up “Hello Anuj Ji, I am Kwatra. Sorry, I will not be able to bring you lunch today. I am stuck. There has been a traffic accident and a pile-up of more than 12 cars on the highway. It will take me hours to get out of this mess.” Now the video clipping made sense. So we were in the grips of the worst smog the city had ever seen. The biggest thing to be hit will be Delhi tourism along with Uttar Pradesh as these places get lots of foreign tourist in winters. The tourists prefer the Golden Triangle of Delhi – Agra – Jaipur and some go to Mumbai and Varanasi. These sections will be hit the most. The foreign tourists are very careful about their health and take a lot of precautions and medical guidance. They will give India a miss this year and opt for other countries in South East Asia that have lower pollution. The photos of Delhi hot spots under siege by the smog has further tarnished the image of the city and I am sure that the tourists will stay away this time.
Delhi has the highest number of motor vehicles in the country. Many governments had tried to bring a halt to the pollution through clean energy and green auto rickshaws and buses. CNG drive did stop the rot for a while and the odd-even tuber cars on particular days would have further helped. But we are still stuck in the quagmire which will worsen as extreme winter approaches. As for travellers, take advice from your doctors and get your physical check-ups done. Try water face masks when venturing outdoors. Asthma patients, please carry antibiotics and inhalers with you all the time when travelling.
I had nowhere to go today but it seems that the Delhi smog will dominate news and debate for a few days.