Does Delhi pollution signal towards a political crisis?

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New Delhi, Nov 22: November has brought "doom" for Delhi.

It has been more than two weeks since the residents of the national capital are battling air pollution with little relief in sight. Now, the thick blanket of smog in Delhi has become a daily affair.

delhi pollution

During the initial days, the Delhi smog was well-covered by the media across the country. However, with the passing of days, the alarm over 'poor air quality' in the national capital has reduced because of its regularity, like many other grave issues plaguing the country.

According to reports, Delhi's air quality remained "very poor" for the third straight day on Tuesday. The authorities warned that the situation may "worsen" in the coming days. The air quality index (AQI), as maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), was 326 on a scale of 500.

Since reports indicate more bad days ahead for the national capital, what does this mean for the people of Delhi and the nation as a whole?

Some experts smell a political crisis in the Delhi pollution.

"...That is why the crisis expressed by choking air quality cannot be considered an environmental one. It is a political crisis--in a fundamental, not in an electoral, sense. If democratic politics is about empowering the citizen, it has failed in Delhi.

"Citizens of the city have reached a state of disempowered existence and numbness through a series of silently suffered traumas. These traumas cannot be treated now, but acknowledging them might have some healing effect," writes Krishna Kumar, former director of NCERT and a Hindi writer, in a column published by The Indian Express.

The writer suggests reinvention of Delhi like many others in the recent few days.

"We are now at a point where the city has to be reinvented. There is no point protesting, and there is no place, literally, to stage a protest. (Jantar Mantar, where space to protest was allotted some years ago has been restored to its original sanctity.)

"Making a city out of Delhi once again would mean identifying people who care about its future and who don't mind carrying on with certain duties of despair. One of them is to initiate the infusion of sustainable public anxiety," Krishna adds.

In the column for the English daily, the former director of NCERT stated that the entire process will "require mobilisation of institutions of various kinds, including those involved in education, law, and health".

"We can rest assured that e-mobilisation will not work. Second, the people who agree to work for Delhi's rebirth and recovery as a city will need to avoid arousing the hope of any impending solution to the problem of air pollution.

"Rather, they will have to encourage people to show adequate stamina for bearing the consequences of past neglect and misfortunes. Rebirth of a city is no simple matter. It will take time, and the harvest of its rebirth cannot be collected with a rented combiner," he adds.

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