When Smog Is A Declared Public Health Emergency, Why Does No One Give A Shit?

Posted by Vipul Gupta in Environment, Specials
November 16, 2017

Last year according to Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), Delhi’s pollution level post-Diwali was worse than the Great Smog of London 1952, one of the deadliest environmental disaster in the history of modern world.

There wasn’t another tragedy like that after 1952 in London, but here in India, what we see is inaction and the ignorance and arrogance of elected leaders. The Prime Minister can campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, but can not chair a single meeting of Chief Ministers of the stakeholder states.

The CMs can tweet but not meet.Uneducated and poor people are wearing surgical masks in hope that it might help avoid pollution. Parents are told to cage their children inside, constructors are told to stop their work, killing livelihood year after year. All their homes would surely have air purifiers bought from taxpayer money, but a taxpayer’s home might not have one, forget about those sleeping on the roads.

So, why is it so that despite the Indian Medical Association announcing the smog situation as a public health emergency, the governments fail to give a shit about it?

Probably because our government rules a country where healthcare and education is no more a state issue, but a private issue. India spent just 1.3% of its GDP on healthcare, and it’s time we ask for more. It’s time to ask the states and the centre to shell out more and solve our problem.

After all, we can wait for bullet trains or for a Ram statue or Shivaji Memorial, but we can’t wait for this. The political career of the CMs and PM might be long over by the time a major spike in a respiratory epidemic is seen soon. So in the end, it’s our suffering and not theirs. We can’t let an air quality index of 500 become the new normal. The government may have accepted it, but we can’t.

To those who say “toh kya karein? (What do we do?”),  to those who say that the odd-even rule and the firecracker ban failed, just google “Delhi air pollution research papers” and you will find your answers. This is also why institutes like IITs must be funded, so there is more research.

Why do I write this post?

I write this in hope – a hope that people will make this post reach where it should reach.