Pollution—Environmental and political—both are killing us


Will we, the masses of North India, ever get rid of the smoggy pollution around? Or will we die with this dangerous haze hovering around?

Saffron political "pollution" in action at Babri Masjid

Yes, once again we sit trapped, with air quality levels getting to be ‘very poor’! If only the sarkar of the day could show the same level of enthusiasm for clearing the pollution that its showing for banning triple talaq, then, perhaps, there would be some relief coming, otherwise not. But all this hue and cry by the Right-Wing lobbies to ban triple talaq reeks of political opportunism. One of those political ploys at work, one of those triple-strategies in action which the RSS-BJP is infamous for.

Today the stark truth is this: till a political party or a politician doesn’t take up the deteriorating pollution levels on an absolutely serious note we are doomed. How long can we move about in this masked condition? How long can we sit sneezing or coughing? For how long will the eyes take the strain of pollutants intruding? Who is answerable for the rise of cancer-related deaths?

In the last couple of weeks I have heard several of the who’s who of New Delhi contemplating shifting; moving to Goa or towards the mountains of Uttarakhand. But, these are the rich and well-connected who can indulge in the luxury of shifting base.

What about us? We, the naïve, have been hearing lofty political promises that efforts are in full swing to harness the pollutants but where are the results? Last week there was a slight dent in the smoggy conditions; mind you, not because of the governmental interventions but because of rains and drizzle. Now we are back to square one. Living, rather dying, trapped in this gas chamber city. Mind you, as the haze would reach the ‘dangerous…emergency levels’ there would be another round of television discussions, together with shots of ministers sitting all too huddled in supposed meetings on how to tackle this mess and that’s about it.

Shockingly, even the odd-even scheme couldn’t get implemented. And to compound the mess those initial curbs on construction or on the entry of trucks were not of the ongoing strain. Also, whatever happened to those promises of sprinkling water along roads and concretes? Also, who is responsible for the smoke and fire emerging all through the year from the garbage dumps that outer Delhi locales are notorious for?

At times I sit wondering: is there a nexus between the rulers of the day with the businessman who are running the hospitals and nursing homes? Look around and you may be more than shocked to see that instead of parks and playgrounds there are nursing homes and clinics and hospitals everywhere. Manned by doctors turned businessmen. In fact, this brings me to write that this latest case, where the Gurgaon-situated Fortis hospital thrust a bill of 16 lakh to the parents of a seven-year-old child who died of dengue complications, is the grim reality of the day! Private doctors can kill with bills. And government hospitals are not just over-crowded but ill-equipped to reach out to the dying. Didn’t hundreds of children die within weeks in a government-backed hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur! Shockingly, after that initial hue and cry, subsequent cries seemed well contained. Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath didn’t resign. Perhaps, he didn’t feel the need to. After all, only hundreds of children had died in his constituency! Also, he’d dragged along an array of distractions of building a this or that.

Today, nothing remains ‘breaking news’ for more than a day, as it gets overtaken by another set of breaking news with a wider range of complexities. Today, political mafia controls what we get to breath or eat or live...In fact, last year (2016) witnessed more internal displacements than previous years and for obvious reasons these are linked to the political-cum-land mafia holding sway.

Crippled, we live with the environmental pollution-cum-political pollution wrecking havoc. Impossible it is to halt or even curb the disintegration that’s been set into motion right from the early 1990s. Right from the time LK Advani went on that rath yatra paving way for the destruction of the Babri masjid on December 6, 1992.

It’s been 25 years of that destruction but there seems no respite. That destruction paved way for the rise of fascism in the country. I would label it as the turning point in the recent history of India. From that day onwards the political mahaul stands polluted. Those offshoots intruding into every single sphere.

We seem to have entered the dark ages where to break structures, human or otherwise, is going about uncontrolled. And each and every time an election time nears, we don’t talk of our survival but focus gets shifted to a bundle of non-issues like triple-talaq. Nah, we are not raising the issue of farmers dying or for that matter an entire generation sitting starved of jobs and of cities getting enveloped in a haze that’s begun killing each one of us in one way or the other.

And with December nearing, television studios have already begun discussions on the fate of the Babri masjid…leaving you with these lines of Baba Bulleh Shah:

“Masjid dhaa de, Mandir dhaa de, Dhaa de jo kuch dhenda,

Par kissi da dil na dha vee, Rab dilla wich rehnda hae

(Destroy a mosque, destroy a temple, destroy everything in sight. But don't break a human heart, for that is where God resides.)”