If nothing else, the Coronavirus-induced lockdown led to a greener surrounding and a cleaner air. But five months down the line, the skies were grey again and eyes were fuming because of the chemicals in the air. And it wasn’t the industries emitting the smoke! This time it was the stubble burnt by farmers of Punjab and Haryana which turned Delhi into a fuming chamber, choking everyone to death.

Just a few days back, I was traveling towards Chandigarh with my family and had a brief moment of nostalgia. We’ve been living in Delhi NCR for the past many decades and the farmers had been doing their harvest the same way ever since. But just five years back, Delhi never felt this choked before Diwali. We became inquisitive and realised that indeed such huge levels of pollutants were never felt a few years back.

It’s only since 2016 that such a spike in AQI has been witnessed. The first year, we thought it was just fog that covered Delhi’s skyline before Diwali and winters came in early. But alas, it was just for a few weeks and the temperature never dropped during that time. A tingling thought arose about smog but was soon brushed off amid the post-Diwali cracker smog. But everyone was alarmed when the same happened next year and this time the intensity was higher. The AQI crossed the 500 mark and the air became severe, totally harmful to be inhaled. Year after year, the air quality index deteriorated and it became difficult to breathe. This year, many steps were taken by Delhi government like providing a chemical to be sprayed on the crops to turn them into biodegradable manure but to no avail. As October commenced, the air quality started getting worse. And it happened again and the AQI surpassed the 700 mark on many days. The onset of winter leads to severe concerns in people, especially for those with breathing problems, the elderly, and kids. So, the question that arises now is – can’t something be done to curb the problem?

Farmers need to get rid of the stubble. But is burning it down the only solution? What about the air that gets so toxic, it becomes poisonous to breathe? Shouldn’t our leaders taking some steps to tackle this issue, knowing it is something so recurring and on such a large scale. Where is the government failing? Or is it some political game that’s being played with the lives of innocent at the name of parali or stubble burning and the intoxicating air quality?

We’ll be covering our insight and research on this concerning issue in the next article. Stay tuned.

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