‘Parties are busy blaming each other, while thousands of people are being affected every year.’
NEW DELHI :Residents of Delhi who have been breathing hazardous air year after year have blamed political parties in the national capital for failing to protect and provide its citizens something as basic as clean air.
Sahil Gupta, a resident of Karol Bagh, told The Sunday Guardian that political parties need to come together to address the issue of air pollution.
“We are seeing this kind of hazardous air year after year in Delhi, but political parties are busy blaming each other, while thousands of people are being affected every year. The government of the day in Delhi is blaming its neighbouring states, but what has the Delhi government done in the last five years to tackle air pollution?” Gupta asked.
Varun Dhody, a bronchitis patient residing in Patel Nagar in West Delhi, said that every year after Diwali, it is a nightmare for him as he faces difficulty in breathing and has to see the doctor to get respite—and this despite the Delhi government saying that it has been doing everything possible to tackle air pollution.
“Where is the public transport system that the government had promised its citizens? The Delhi government was supposed to install outdoor air purifiers; they have not even done that. Delhi has not seen a single new bus for the last several years; it was only in the last two months that the Delhi government brought in 100 odd buses. Crackers are being burst openly every year, garbage is openly being burnt around the city, little is being done to tackle dust pollution. It is a complete failure of the government to ensure clean air to its residents,” Dhody said.
School students and some teachers also raised concerns about how children are being affected by the poisonous air they are breathing. Shutting down of schools every now and then is not a permanent solution to the problem of air pollution, they said.
Shilpa, a school teacher with a renowned school in Delhi, told this correspondent that the government will have to draw plans to tackle the pollution from its source.
“The measures we see today are all emergency measures. We cannot go on like this for years. Shutting down of schools is not a permanent solution to the problem. This way, children are losing out on their precious time and it is difficult for teachers to complete their syllabus,” Shilpa said.
Schools were asked to remain shut for two days—on Thursday and Friday—on account of rising pollution levels. Thursday was also incidentally Children’s Day and principals from Mother’s International School and Sri Ram School in Delhi had written a letter to all its students apologising for failing to provide children with clean air so that they could come to school and celebrate Children’s Day.
The air pollution in Delhi has once again plummeted to the hazardous level, with Air Quality Index remaining over 500 throughout the last week. This has also forced political parties to make air pollution a top priority in their election manifesto.
Both the Congress and BJP have blamed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over the deteriorating air quality level in the city and have said that the mismanagement and lack of plan by the Delhi government has resulted in the poor air quality in the city over the last five years.
While the BJP has said that the party is drawing up an elaborate plan to tackle the menace of air pollution in Delhi, the Congress has also said that the party will include air pollution as a major campaign point in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections.
Vijender Gupta, senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, told The Sunday Guardian, “The AAP has completely failed to provide clean air to the people of Delhi. The BJP has almost devised a very effective and elaborate plan on how to tackle the issue of pollution in Delhi; we will let the people of Delhi know about our plan very soon. Air pollution will also be one of the top priorities in our election manifesto and we will deliver this to the people of Delhi.”
The Congress has also blamed the AAP for not being able to do much to handle air pollution in Delhi. Haroon Yusuf, senior Congress leader and a former minister in the Sheila Dixit Cabinet, told this newspaper that during the Congress government, Delhi had addressed the issue of pollution effectively and that the AAP government has only been busy advertising about their party without doing much to actually take care of the emergency situation in Delhi.
“During our time, Delhi faced the worst level of pollution, but we addressed the issues effectively. We moved to CNG-based public transport system, we removed the blue line buses, we enhanced the public transport system of Delhi, but this government has only talked and delivered nothing to the people. We will go to the people of Delhi and tell them how effective the Congress government was in Delhi. The Congress will make air pollution the top priority if a Congress government comes to power,” Yusuf said.