Caught in a smoky haze

With the pollution level rising and concerns over hazardous air quality mounting at many places, I am reminded of my road trip to Delhi four years ago in mid-November to attend my niece’s wedding.

There was a slight nip the morning air common during this time of the year when we started from Chandigarh. The sky was cloudy but as soon as we crossed Ambala, to our utter dismay, we found the entire stretch engulfed in a smoky haze. The brightness of the morning was replaced by the dullness of grey. We could hardly see anything.  Smog blanketed the entire area. Visibility was so poor that the vehicles plied on the highway  with their head-lights on during the day time. But where was the day light? All around us there was a thick dark grey air.

Travel by an air-conditioned car saved us from inhaling toxic air on the way, but we could feel itching in the eyes and irritation in the nose and throat on reaching our destination in Delhi.

All along the highway, we could see fields, not green but blackish in colour with tell-tale signs of stubble burning. We didn’t see fire burning in any field but there was smoke coming out of many. This was four years ago. I understand the state governments have stepped up their efforts to stop stubble burning .Today, there is an extensive campaign to dissuade the farmers from burning of parali and innovative techniques are being evolved to stop the practice. But the fact is paddy straw is to be cleared to make the fields ready for the next crop and disposal of crop residue remains a challenge for the farmers and also for the government to put an end to this unhealthy practice.

Despite the ban on stubble burning, media reports tell that fields continue to be set on fire. During this part of the year when there is a dip temperature; paddy stubble burning significantly adds to the problem of environment pollution as weather conditions trap the poisonous micro particles. Along with the factors like vehicular pollution, construction dust that refuses to settle, polluting industries that run with impunity, burning of farm residue is a major pollutant in this part of the country.

I muse it is easy to blame the farmers but what about the behavior of general public during Diwali when the pollution levels skyrocket leaving everyone gasping and choking. This time again, air quality dipped significantly on Diwali as cracker ban was blown up with aplomb at many places.

Well, the festival of Diwali has always been about ‘boom’ and crackers. During my growing up days, no one preached or practiced ‘green Diwali’. Unmindful of the damage to environment, we would burst crackers from Dussehra to Diwali with gay abandon. But now that we know the consequences, it is foolishness to act irresponsibly. Besides checking industrial and vehicular pollution, it is imperative to adopt eco-friendly practices, whether for the celebration of Diwal or the disposal of parali. How can we continue to damage our own health and well-being?

(Publishes in The Tribune as Middle on 25 November 2021 )


7 Replies to “Caught in a smoky haze”

  1. Much needed wake up call!..Rama, you have such a wonderful narrative skill coupled with magical play of mellifluous words… It is always a pleasure to read your articles. can always relate to them.. God bless

    1. Such a pleasure to read your comments!I am ever so grateful to you for reading my pieces with interest and leaving your wonderful comments.The way you analyse leaves me spell bound.The fact is I don’t much understand the nuances of the language and narrative, just share my experience, thoughts and feelings. Thanks Mrs Dhawan once again.

  2. Delightful Reading, once again.
    Dear Rama, your writings always combine valuable information, thought provoking ideas and views with a highly fluid writing style. Naturally they provide a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
    Pollution, of course, is assuming grave proportions. You rightly said that it is not just to blame farmers alone. General public and governments are responsible to much greater extent. I wonder why our leaders, who never raise an eye brow over gigantic amounts spent on unproductive heads like building monuments, celebrations and personal expenses, fight shy of shouldering the financial responsibility involved in disposal of parali till farmers can be educated and a cheap alternative found.
    As far as we, mango people are concerned, flouting rules has become our favourite hobby, along with love for ‘show off’-after all ostentatious spending on functions and blowing off rupees in smoke are status symbols!!

    1. Omg ! ma’am , your comment ! I am falling short of words… You are outstanding ma’am… All I can do is to bow before my teacher in reverence.

  3. Ma’am, your blog post shows a very serious concern about the problem and consequences of air pollution.Smog causes breathing problems and other health issues.This problem is even in Lucknow.In some parts of our country ( like Bihar , jharkhand and Eastern U.P.) paddy stubble is used in some form or another and is not burnt.

    1. Thanks Garima for enlightening me on the fact that stubble is not being burnt in some parts of the country.
      I feel in Punjab-Haryana-Westrn UP,thanks to Green revolution, farming is into wheat-rice cycle .There is urgency about However, alternative eco-friendly techniques for the disposal of crop residue have to be adopted for our health and environment and also for the health of soil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights