Gasping Delhi residents take matters into their own hands
When the rest of Delhi is choking for air, some have taken matters into their own hands to try and make the best of the situation. These residents have opted for makeshift masks made of handkerchiefs to air purifiers to even leaving town, to deal with the situation.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded that the AQI of Delhi at 381 on Friday, which is expected to drop to 360 on Saturday; a reading still considered very poor. On Saturday, the Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) has predicted clear skies with moderate to shallow fog and maximum temperature is expected to be 31°C and the minimum is expected to be 14°C. With no winds predicted until Monday, the smog and low visibility days will persist over the weekend.
BS Vohra of the East Delhi Residents’ Welfare Association spoke about how he no longer uses his two-wheeler out, unless he has no other choice. “If we take our bikes out, we use a handkerchief to cover our mouths and noses,” he said.
Vikram Karunakaram has invested in masks and air purifiers to ensure that his kids are safe. “My 7-year-old child was diagnosed with upper respiratory tract congestion, after coughing and wheezing for over 3 weeks. I have now ensured that my kids use a mask, if they are going out,” he said.
Vanita Varma of Gurgaon claimed that she or her family no longer leave their house if they can avoid it. “Once my kids come home (from school), they are confined to their rooms. They are not allowed to go out or play. It may not be the best solution, but it is necessary. I have air purifiers at home.”
Ananya Vajpeyi, left town and went to Dharamshala on Friday to avoid the drastic levels of pollution in the national capital. “I had initially come for the weekend, but I have now decided to stay the week,” the Nizamuddin resident said. She said that she had been fine during the summer. She has been battling respiratory issues for sometime now, but it was exacerbated after Diwali.
“This year’s Diwali was just out of control,” said the associate fellow at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).
Raunak Singhi has started a website called myshelli.com that suggests appropriate indoor plants for your house, so that it can help clean up the air. “Empirical results show that eye irritation, headaches, lung impairment, asthma and cough are all reduced if you have indoor plants,” said Singhi.
Experts, however, doubt if it can help much. “I can’t say if green plants will make much of a difference. It will add some oxygen but may not play a big role in clearing pollutants,” said Rachana Kucheria, a doctor from Gulmohar Park.
Leonie Broekstra, a citizen of Netherlands who has found home in Chanakyapuri for the last year, however, said that a lot of available measures to combat air pollution is available only to the privileged.
“We spend close to R5,000 on a filter for our air purifier. I worry about the many people who cannot afford this. It is the government’s task to protect the vulnerable; the ones who cannot afford drastic measures and also those who may not be aware,” she said.