Who is Responsible for the Current Climate Crisis in Delhi?

Delhi's choking condition is in the news every year, during this period. This year, it broke all the 'box office' records of bad air quality. The Supreme Court 'acted' as a 'concerned' authority. It asked the Delhi and other related governments to 'stop' the 'blame' game. It has given some order and 'decided' that 'enough' is 'enough'.


Arvind Kejriwal blamed the Punjab farmers, while BJP and Congress blamed Arvind Kejriwal, for all that was happening in Delhi, where the air quality is ‘good enough’ to send you to some ‘asthma cure’ centers.

Netas are ‘protesting’ in the streets. Some students’ organisations and other groups, too, are ‘protesting’ that ‘Delhi must be given ‘clean air’ (as if you can buy it from Reliance’s Big Bazar).

Watching the protesting people, I realised how hypocriticalour politicians as well as the publicare. The question we must ask today is whether Delhi’s environmental crisis is because of the farmers burning stubble? Or are farmers being used as a soft target, ignoring the vast construction activities, vehicular pollution and above all, despite all pretensions, our ‘festivals’, which we glamorise so much. Modern day, commercialised Diwali and other festivals have become the biggest threat to our environment, and, actually, a disaster for our future, if we donot change the mode to celebrate them. There was a time when crackers were burst only on the Diwali day but now the trend has been extended to the Dusshera,Chhuth and other sundry festivals as well as marriage parties, India- Pakistan matches etc.

I am here, in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and every year I come to this place, particularly during the festivities of Diwali, to protect myself from the torture that we face in Delhi but here too crackers were burst. Noise pollution was already there, thanks to the temples but on Chhutth day, we saw crackers being burst. Next morning, we saw smog all over but we don’t care. We are hell bent on pleasing our gods, who cannot do anything, but will only help the brahmanical interests.

While flying from Chennai to Gorakhpur, I came via Delhi. I can say that the smog was not limited to the Delhi sky. It had actually spread across the other parts of Northern India, and various satellite images now confirm that. It is painful to see how India’s smaller towns, too, are now being choked.

And it will continue as long as our political class, and people at large,do not act. We will destroy our environment, and no God will be able to help India if the people do not act. That is why, I remember Periyar, who was the man who had the courage to speak up against the evils of religion. There were many other reformers, who spoke against these evils, which are among the main reasons for the continuous destruction of our environment. Can we not imagine how much North India was engulfed in darkness on the Diwali day! But once you raise this question, the deliberate thing will be – what about Christmas and Eid? I tell them all that no other festival matches Diwali, in its current form, in the destruction of nature because bursting of crackers is considered to be an essential ‘religious’ activity. No political leader of today can appeal to the people not to burst crackers, but just greet each other and light diyas. Why cannot the government act against the crackers factories? But it will not, because it will allow things to come from the source and penalise the poor workers.

Our festivals are related to crop harvesting, and I have mentioned it many times, but given the state of nature today, we need to have a serious look at the way we celebrate them. On Holi, we burn so much of wood all over the country. Can anyone imagine burning of wood at a time when it will not be available, even for burning dead bodies. That apart, we destroy our environment.

Chhath has just finished. This festival is called the festival of ‘nature’, but the fact is, these are celebrations of male supremacy. Right from Karwa Chauth to Bhai Dooj and now Chhath, they all are part of our male dominated brahmanical system, but none of the politicians will ever speak against them. None of our ‘revolutionaries’ will speak. Now, Chhath has been cleverly ‘nationalised’ through TV channels, and rivers and banks are all filled with hordes of people. The next day, you find only garbage on these banks. Photographs appear, of women worshiping the sun in the highly polluted Yamuna river. I am amazed to see the ‘faith’ that makes these women, including young girls, to give ‘ardhya’ to the sun, standing in the hugely toxic water of Yamuna. I am not impressedby their ‘faith’, but can only pity their ignorance. I am shocked that political leaders and government did not advise people not to go to these dangerously polluted areas in the name of faith. It should have stopped them, but then, it will not because our politicians remain highly hypocritical.

India is destroying its natural resources in the name of faith. Watch our festivals of Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja, and the amount of garbage that is left over after the ceremony. After the festivities are over, we immerse all the idols in rivers and seas. Has anybody asked why this cannot stop? How will we keep our water bodies clean and safe, with such massive levels of rubbish being thrown into them?

It is not the issue of north or south. It is the issue of our cultural corruption. The struggle to protect our environment is not just a government job. In fact, politicians and governments do not have the courage to speak bluntly, as they are in the habit of using these ‘religious’ events to further their political agenda. Once the politicians have discovered the benefits of our ignorance, they will not make a move to remove it, but our constitutional bodies must work. Our Environment Ministry must act, we must have a river protection department, which must stop people from further polluting them. Faith cannot be an excuse to destroy our environment. Do not blame the farmers of Punjab for the ills of Delhi, have the courage to completely ban crackers and immersion of idols in various water bodies of the country. Reduce vehicular traffic and stop all those ‘developmental’ activities which are being undertaken at the cost of Nature. No developmental work should be allowed, unless an impartial environmental assessment study is done which approves it. Of course, we know how this is done these days. Modiji is developing a new plan to ‘develop’ Delhi. The historical buildings might become ‘history’. So, further digging and polluting of the city will continue. A green Delhi has been converted into a cemented zone, which will choke it further.

It is time we all understand the dangers of our ignorance and superstitions, which are now threatening our environment. Our ‘developmental’ module is also helping the corrupt and the cronies and does not deal with the issue of protecting the earth. Can they protect our nature, who want to ‘exploit’ it? We need to set our priorities right, only then we will be able to protect our right to breathe fresh air. Otherwise, the situation is only going to worsen in future.

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