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Why Aren't Working Delhiites Haunted by Severe Pollution?

© AP Photo / Altaf QadriNew Delhi
New Delhi - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.11.2023
Bereft of any choice to skip work, working Delhiites are traveling by public transport, shared auto-rickshaws, or pedaling their way to shops. Here's what is driving people to carry on in life, despite record-breaking air pollution.
Delhi is increasingly engulfed by air pollution, with an extremely high air quality index (AQI) being recorded this week, despite a brief respite due to rain before Diwali.
Health experts have said that prolonged exposure to particle pollution from fine particulates (PM2.5) can cause immediate and long-term damage.
They warn that these levels of pollution can impact the brain and circulatory system, causing headaches and asthma attacks instantly, as well as spiking cancer risk by several times.
Nonetheless, there are many who are out there and going about their daily life as usual.
Sputnik India talked to some of the residents in the Indian capital to hear what makes them so fearless to carry on with life in a city where the AQI appears to deteriorate by the day.

Challenge to Survive

For 49-year-old Rani, being on the roadside away from her house is not a choice but an unavoidable compulsion due to her helplessness in personal life.
"You may have a family but still not anyone supporting you to survive. Life is cruel. I am here near this Yamuna flyover to beg for something to survive. I am yet to collect something to eat," the mother of three married boys and a daughter stated when asked why she was not staying at home on a smog-filled morning.
"I have been feeling a burning sensation in my eyes since yesterday. At times water starts coming out of the eyes. It was there a few days earlier but after it rained in the city, it had vanished. Now the discomfort is back since Diwali," she shared while talking about her health.

Mohammed Faizal of Usmanpur area drives his battery-operated rickshaw up to Kashmere Gate, a distance of about 7 km, every day. He works during the night at Delhi's Inter-State Bus Terminus for a better earning in its vicinity than in the morning. It helps him to avoid stiff competition from others in the daytime.

"I cannot think of staying at home. I have to make a living on a daily basis, otherwise how will I have enough to support my family," stated the father of two when asked if it ever occurred to him not to venture out for a few days during this polluted phase of the year.
"It feels like there is some dust in the eyes. But I prefer splashing some water to wash the eyes. At times my nose starts running. But it feels less discomforting at night than during the daytime till evening when there is high traffic," he shared.

Pollution - A Rich Man's Infliction?

Ramesh Gupta, a farming worker traveling in the city, believes that the people from the grassroots are much stronger, and they don't get perturbed so easily from seasonal things.

"We don't feel any sort of inconvenience from pollution. It's an excuse of those who lead an air-conditioned life," the 55-year-old stated when asked if the rising pollution concerned him.

"We don't start our day by a watch and none in my family ever complains of any pollution since we work through the day in the field," he remarked.

What is Polluting Delhi?

One or two days of cracker bursting, contrary to general perception, cannot be attributed to be the main or only source of pollution, a section of environmentalists has suggested.
"If the WHO reports in the past suggested that pollution spikes by 20 times on Diwali night alone, there's need to really suspend all kinds of human activities contributing to Delhi’s ambient air," stated well-known environmentalist Vimlendu Jha.
He explained that the chief source of pollution, almost 30% of air quality deterioration, can be attributed to private vehicles and public transport. "Besides almost 30 to 35% of the contribution to this pollution is from construction and demolition dust, as well as the roadside dust."
a thick smog in New Delhi - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.11.2023
Delhi Air Quality Worsens After Diwali, Firecracker Ban Ignored
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