Harsh Dahiya, 14, a resident of Swarn Park in Mundka, looks like an average Class IX student. There’s a difference though. This student of NC Jindal Public School is a petitioner in a court case demanding clean air in his toxic corner of Delhi.
He and five other children have moved the National Green Tribunal, which has sent notices to the Centre and the Delhi government on the alarming levels of air pollution caused by industries in West Delhi.
This is the second instance in recent times when little ones have petitioned against the foul air of the city in a court of law. In 2015, three parents had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of their toddlers, calling for a ban on bursting of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR.
On November 26 this year, the apex court imposed a blanket ban on the sale and stocking of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR with immediate effect, and suspended all such licences.
This present plea in the NGT was filed by Umesh Kumar, Aditi Bhardwaj, Abdul Razzaq, Harsh Dahiya, Prince Lakra and Vivekanand through their legal guardians, asking for a time-bound action plan to curb pollution in West Delhi’s Mundka and Kirari areas.
Harsh told HT that the children decided to file the petition at the green court for “some sort of relief from the constant breathlessness after running a few paces”.
“Our area is excessively polluted. I easily get breathless when I go out to play, especially during winter months. Cough and breathing problems are common ailments I and friends face on a regular basis. We need some relief in the form of green spaces. Someone had to do something, so we did. It is a question of our future,” he said.
Younus Khan, father of 14-year-old Abdul Razzaq – another petitioner – says the presence of thousands of industries in the already over-congested corner of West Delhi has worsened the condition.
“There are around 50 schools in the area with more than 1 lakh students, many of whom are suffering from breathing problems, especially during winters. Things get really tough for kids and old people. Hopefully our kids plea will be heard,” Khan said.
The petition says there are around 1,42,242 households here on about 4,626 acres, including the industrial and commercial areas in Mundka and Kirari, out of which 1,400 acres (30% of total area) have been carved out as industrial areas.
“Around 325 acres (7% of total area) are commercial areas and 2875 acres (62% of the total area) are residential in form of colonies and villages and a negligible amount of approximately 1% is green area,” the plea, filed through advocates Rahul Choudhary and Meera Gopal, said.
The matter has been listed for January 27.