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Dear Govt, Are We Going to Wait Until Diwali to Talk About Air Pollution?

The pollution levels in Delhi/NCR become a concern during Diwali – and then all the concern seems to vanish. I wish the alarming pollutants would also just vanish.

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My younger son goes to a play school in Gurugram. In his class, there are 12 kids, all around the 3-year age group. I cannot remember the last time they were all present together. This morning the class WhatsApp group was buzzing, and each parent who had messaged was asking their kid to be excused from school.

These tiny-tots are being made to stay at home because many of them are being nebulised while almost all others have a persistent cough, which just refuses to leave them.

Many family friends are contemplating moving to other cities. Some have moved.

The pollution levels in Delhi/NCR become a concern during Diwali – and then all the concern seems to vanish. I wish the alarming pollutants would also just vanish.

In response to the situation, we have put ourselves in, Nritu Luthra, a Grade 8 student from MatriKiran in Gurugram pens this open letter to The Government of India.

A concerned young student

To
The Government of India

Subject: Air Pollution, please do something.

A two-year long study conducted by the Lancent Commission on pollution and health found that India has the most deaths caused by pollution in the world. However, this shouldn’t be surprising considering we also have 19 of the 35 most polluted cities in the world!

Do we have such high AQIs because of the constant smoke cloud that looms over us, the enormous amount of cars that are on the roads every day or the time of the year when smog comes to visit?

Diwali isn’t just ‘festival of lights’ anymore. It is also the festival of smog and high AQIs. We school children don’t get five holidays for Diwali anymore. We get a few extra because of the pollution. Because learning cannot happen when your eyes are watering, your head is aching and lungs are suffering.

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We can’t go to school when the AQI is 941 in some regions, just 58 less than the highest AQI 999. It’s not just the fireworks that create air pollution this time of year. It is also farmers burning their crops. Crop burning or stubble burning is practised to improve the health of the field.

Can’t this be done through compost? Can’t farmers convert their remaining stubble into fertiliser; this too will help the soil of the field. Stubble could also make biogas that can be used as a clean fuel for the numerous cars we have in Delhi. By implementing this, we won’t have to breathe in the residue of burnt stubble, smoke.

I urge you to please take action. Not just for a few days before Diwali, but NOW, to make sure Diwali of 2018 as a pollution-free one.

Yours sincerely,
Nritu Luthra

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