Ravinder Raj is 80, suffers from asthma and allergies, and has been waging a long battle with government agencies to help improve Delhi’s air quality. His answer to bringing down increasing pollution levels: night sweeping.
In his decade-long fight, the retired Delhi high court lawyer has filed numerous PILs and written to civic agencies and other government bodies. Acting on his petition, the high court had in 2009 sought an explanation from the MCD on why it had not implemented night sweeping despite assurances to this effect.
Night sweeping — common practice in big cities across the world — helps bring down pollution levels as it allows dust particles to settle by the time people wake up. Raj said he had carefully studied the situation in the US, Singapore and China.
“A senior doctor told me the dust flying around in the morning is extremely dangerous, especially for children. But if the sweeping is done at night, the dust subsides by morning,” he said.
He claimed he’d learnt from experts that this reduces instances of respiratory illnesses like asthma, bronchitis and other allergies by as much as 90%. Raj recalls receiving a wake-up call two years ago when he underwent surgery and the wound wouldn’t heal even after two weeks.
“When I asked the doctor, he told me it was not his medicines but the air that does not allow wounds to heal as fast as they should. I was initially surprised but then I got a certificate from a doctor about the effects of pollutants,” he said, adding that this strengthened his resolve.
“I have filed at least 10 PILs but despite the court order asking the municipal bodies to sweep the city at night, no implementation has happened,” said Raj.
The Modi government’s Swachh Bharat campaign and the election of a new government in Delhi has given him fresh hope. “I am confident (CM) Arvind Kejriwal will think about the aam aadmi. Even he is suffering from allergies and this will help him too,” he laughed.