New Delhi, Nov 8: Amid increasing pollution in the capital, especially on the eve of Diwali, many families, particularly those with young children and those with breathing problems, are on a sojourn to the hills and wildlife sanctuaries to get a breath of fresh air.
"I cannot take the risk of celebrating Diwali here. When I feel like I am choking, what would happen to my two-year-old kid?" Warisha, a Supreme Court lawyer, who is leaving for Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan, around 200 km from Delhi, told IANS.
She said pollution in the capital has become more hazardous in the past two years. "It is growing day by day. Celebrating the festival is fine, but people should not go to such an extent where it becomes difficult to breathe.
"Last year, my son got very ill after Diwali. I cannot afford that again," the lawyer said.
The Supreme Court recently refused to ban crackers during Diwali, saying it was not possible to issue an order that cannot be implemented.
Many elderly and sick people are also leaving for places where they feel pollution is likely to be low on Diwali.
"I and my wife are going to Shimla to celebrate the festival in fresh air rather than choke myself here," said Narayan Das, a retired doctor.
"Last year, during Diwali, we both fell terribly ill. We could not breath properly and the illness remained for a long time."
Apart from travelling to hilly areas, people are also choosing to take to meditation during the festival.
"I am taking my family to Haridwar ashram this year on Diwali. It is because I don't want my old father to suffer from respiratory problems again," said Ravi Sharma, a businessman.
"Last year, both my parents fell ill due to the unending smog in the city," he said.
Gopal Shankar Narayan, one of the lawyers who filed the petition in Supreme Court last week, believes that the government has not taken any positive step so far, in wake of the high pollution level during Diwali.
"The government has failed to do something positive about it. It would have been better if the court did not reject the interim plea," he said.
A parent of three, Narayan said: "The larger pollution issues here beat the permissible limits. For a parent, it is really a big risk to let our children suffer."