NY Times: NaMo seems to be least interested in tackling the problem of pollution in India

Go down

NY Times: NaMo seems to be least interested in tackling the problem of pollution in India

Post by Rashmun on Tue Dec 12, 2017 1:57 pm

NEW DELHI — As millions of Indians watched a televised cricket match this week between the national teams of India and Sri Lanka, the game suddenly stopped.

The pollution in New Delhi is especially bad right now, and one of the Sri Lankan players could barely breathe. He leaned over, put his hands on his knees and started throwing up on live television.

The Sri Lankan cricketers were clearly not ready for New Delhi’s foul air, which this week contained 22 times the level of hazardous particles that the World Health Organization considers acceptable. It was an embarrassing moment for India, and the National Green Tribunal, India’s environmental court, chastised the local government for even holding the match....

Some of Mr. Modi’s team have been quick to seize on the seasonal factor. The environment minister, Harsh Vardhan, reassured the public the problem would clear up once the winds started blowing.

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the state of Delhi (a position like a governor), had a totally different take: He said Delhi had turned into a “gas chamber.’’

This is another issue. The different layers of India’s government — and there’s a dizzying number — are constantly undermining each other, and air pollution keeps seeping through the cracks.

“Ninety-nine percent of this is lack of coordination,” said Salman Khurshid, a former minister and member of India’s leading opposition party. “The central government can only talk; it can’t do anything.’’

But environmentalists say Mr. Modi isn’t even talking. He has been strangely quiet when it comes to the dirty air he himself breathes. In November and again this week, Indian news channels ran little red meters on screen showing air quality sinking to anxiety-producing levels. As officials across various layers of Indian government scrambled to respond, Mr. Modi did not say — or tweet, which is how he often communicates — a word about it.

Instead, he sent out messages on entirely different subjects ranging from meeting Prince Charles to Chennai’s “rich musical tradition.”

“There is complete silence from the prime minister,” said Gauri Rao, a member of a new advocacy group called My Right To Breathe. “The one person who can change it is quiet.”

Mr. Modi is hardly shy. He has taken the lead on other public health issues, such as his signature toilet-building campaign, with his face on billboards everywhere.

An adviser gave the impression that the prime minister was not more engaged because the central government considered air pollution a problem for just a couple of weeks a year, and a Delhi-centric one at that.

But the city’s air quality is poor for most of the year. And it is not just New Delhi: Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Agra, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad have all suffered levels more than six times what the World Health Organization considers safe.

In 2015, pollution was linked to 2.5 million deaths in India, the medical journal The Lancet said. The new Unicef report says that high levels of air pollution can cause neuroinflammation, damaging cognitive development in young children.



Posts : 4425
Join date : 2011-08-18

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum