India’s poor are on frontlines of pollution war, says experts

The poor population of the country is constantly facing the brunt of hazardous air quality in the national capital said experts.

New Delhi: The air quality has been constantly degrading for over a month now, when the rich and affluent have an option of staying indoors or affording the high-priced expensive air purifiers, the poor population of the country is facing the brunt of hazardous air quality, say experts.

As the air quality index (AQI) hovers between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’, slipping into “poor” on better days, the toxic air and hazy skies over the Delhi-NCR region and other parts of India are driving one more wedge between the haves and the have-nots. This leaves behind the people who are forced to live and work in the outdoors vulnerable to pulmonary and other deadly diseases.

News agency PTI reported, Sunita Narain, who heads the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and is a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) said that the class bias is evident when the pollution level peaks.

She further added that we can fight pollution only when authorities think about both rich and poor and both join hands in this fight to protect the environment. Otherwise the rich can roam in diesel vehicles and use purifiers to protect themselves but the poor face more exposure and do not even have money for treatment.

Reportedly, the rickshaw pullers and construction workers are the worst hit. It is becoming difficult for rickshaw pullers as they cannot avoid their daily wage work neither they can buy the expensive masks.

Meanwhile, some reports estimate there are 700,000 cycle rickshaws plying on Delhi roads. Then there are construction workers, who not only face prolonged exposure to toxic air but also lose their means of livelihood when the government bans construction activities when pollution levels peak. PTI reported, Radha, 35, has worked at various sites of the city for the past 15 years and jokes that she has a contribution in building this city.

“On some good days I manage to earn as much as Rs 600 per day We are the first ones to lose our work when pollution in the city increases. This year, we were not allowed to work for 12 days in November which made it difficult to support ourselves,” she said.

The prolonged exposure to worst air quality has resulted in long ques outside hospitals. Citizens who spend maximum part of their day outside often complain about the constant cough, burning eyes, heavy pains and in some cases this escalated to severe diseases.

Source: Times Now

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