Delhi’s choking is in the news every year during this period. This year, it broke all the ‘box office’ records of worst air quality. The Supreme Court ‘acted’ as a ‘concerned’ authority. It asked the Delhi and other related government to ‘stop’ ‘blame’ game. It has given some order and ‘decided’ that ‘enough’ is ‘enough’.
Arvind Kejriwal blamed the Punjab farmers while BJP and Congress blamed Arvind Kejriwal for all that was happening in Delhi where air quality is ‘good enough’ to send you to some ‘asthma cure’ centers.
Netas are ‘protesting’ in the street. Some students organisations and other groups too are ‘protesting’ that ‘Delhi must be given clean air’ as if you can buy it from Reliance’s Big Bazar.
Watching the protest of the people, I found how hypocrite are politicians as well as public. The question we must ask today is whether Delhi’s environmental crisis is because farmers are burning stubble or are farmers being used as soft target ignoring the vast construction activities, vehicular pollution and above all, despite all pretensions, our ‘festivals’ which we glamorise so much. Modern day, commercialised, Diwali and other festivals have become the biggest threat for our environment and actually a disaster for our future if we dont change the mode to celebrate them. There was a time when crackers were burst only during the Diwali day but now the trend has been extended during the Dusshera, Chhuth as well as marriage parties, India- Pakistan matches and various other festivals.
I am here in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh and every year I come to this place particularly during the festivities of Diwali to protect myself from the torture that we face in Delhi but here too crackers were burst, noise pollution was already there through temples but on Chhutth day, we have seen crackers being burst. Next morning, we saw smog all over but we dont care. We are hell bent to please our gods who cant do anything but will only help the brahmanical interests.
When I was flying from Chennai to Gorakhpur and came via Delhi, I can say that the smog was not merely in the Delhi sky, It had actually spread across the other part of Northern India and various satellite images now confirm that. It is painful to see how India’s smaller towns too are now being choked.
And it will continue as long as our political class and people at large will not act. we will destroy our environment and No God will be able to help India if people dont act. That is why I remember Periyar who was the man who had the courage to speak up against evils of religion. There were many other reformers who spoke against these religious evils which are one of the reasons of continuous destruction of our environment. Cant we imagine how much north India engulfed in darkness on the Diwali day but once you raise this question the deliberate thing will be what about Christmas and Eid and I tell all these that no other festival match in destruction of nature as the current form of Diwali if bursting of the cracker is considered to be essential ‘religious’ activity. No political leader of the modern time, can appeal to people not to burst crackers and greet each other, light diyas. Why cant the government act against the cracker factories but it wont because it will allow things to come from the source and penalise the poor workers.
Our festivals are related to crop and I have mentioned it many times but given the nature today, we need to have a serious look at the way we celebrate them. On the Holi, we burnt so much of wood all over the country. Can any one imagine burning of wood at the time when it will not be available even for burning the dead bodies. That apart, we destroy our environment.
Chhatth has finished shortly. The festival is called ‘festival’ of nature but the fact is these are celebration of male supremacy. Right from Karwachowth to bhai dooj and now Chhath, they all are part of our male dominated brahmanical system but none of the politicians will ever speak against them. None of our ‘revolutionaries’ will speak. Now, Chhatth has been cleverly ‘nationalised’ through TV channels and rivers and banks are all filled with mass of people. The next day, you find only garbage on these banks. The photographs of women worshiping sun in the highly polluted Yamuna river. I am amazed to see the ‘faith’ that makes these women including young girls to give ‘ardhya’ to sun standing in the hugely intoxicated water of Yamuna. I am not ‘impressed’ in their ‘faith’ but can only pity at their ignorance. I am shocked that political leaders and government did not advise people not to go to these dangerous polluted areas in the name of faith. It should have stopped but then it wont because our politicians remain highly hypocrite.
India is destroying its natural resources in the name of faith. Watch your festivals of Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and the amount of garbage is left over after the ceremony. After the festivals are over, we immerse all the idols in the rivers and seas. Have anybody said why this cant stop. How will you keep your water bodies clean and safe with such massive level of rubbish is flown into them.
It is not the issue or north or south. It is the issue of our cultural corruption. Fight to protect environment is not just a government job. In fact politicians and governments dont have courage to speak things bluntly as they are habitual of using these ‘religious’ events to further their political agenda. Once you have seen ignorance as bliss for politicians, they wont make a comment but our constitutional bodies must work, our environment Ministry must act, we must have river protection department and stop people from further polluting them. Faith can not be a pretense to destroy our environment. Donot blame farmers of Punjab for the evils of Delhi, have courage to complete halt the crackers and immersion of idols in various parts of the country. Reduce vehicular traffic and stop your ‘developmental’ activities at the cost of our nature. No developmental work should be allowed unless an impartial environmental assessment study is done and approve it. Ofcourse, we know how this is done these days. Modi ji is ‘developing’ a new plan to ‘develop’ Delhi. The historical buildings might become ‘history’. So further digging and polluting of the city will continue. A green Delhi has been converted into cemented zone which will choke it further.
It is time we all understand the dangers of our ignorance and superstitions which are now threatening our environment. Our ‘developmental’ module is also helping the corrupt and cronies and has nothing to worry about protecting earth. Can they protect our nature who want to ‘exploit’ everything in it ? We need to place our priorities well only then we will be able to protect our right to breathe fresh air otherwise situation is going to worsen in future.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter at freetohumanity