Are the green spaces in Delhi free from air pollution?

29 January 2015

Lodhi garden is located in the heart of the New Delhi. . The PM (particulate matter) 2.5 levels were found to be three times that of the Indian safety limits and 9 times that of the WHO’s standards. © Sudhanshu Malhotra

The common assumption that one would have about a green space such as a park or a lake-side trail is that it is free from pollution and contamination.  Many look at these spaces as tranquil hubs for rejuvenation and fresh air. These are in other words considered as safe havens away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Delhi has many such parks and historical settings to offer. And, Lodhi Garden, located in one of the prime areas in Delhi, the Lodhi Road, is known for its clean and green placid setting. The garden appeals to a wide variety of people including that of the fitness enthusiasts, picnic lovers and tourists. Despite the soaring air pollution levels in the city, one would expect the air to be cleaner and healthier while in a park or a garden. However, sadly, there seems to be no escape from the toxic air pollution levels for Delhiites even when inside a green setting. A quick, half-hour long air pollution check done by Greenpeace inside the Lodhi Garden revealed an alarmingly high amount of pollution in the air. The PM2.5 levels were found to be three times that of the Indian safety limits and 9 times that of the WHO’s standards.

And here’s what the morning walkers at the Lodhi Garden had to say about the city’s pollution levels –

Interaction with a morning-walkers club at Lodhi Garden 

28 January 2015

Group of morning walkers look at instant air pollution readings conducted in the morning at Lodhi gardens, New Delhi.

 

A group of ten men past the age of 50 had a lot to say about the city’s piteous air quality. They call themselves the Lodhi Garden club and all of them have been living in Delhi throughout their lives and have seen the city’s air quality degrade over a period of time. Most of them think it is severely polluted and uninhabitable! They revealed that they try and avoid being in Delhi as far as possible and constantly look for weekend getaways in search of fresh air. They also informed us that they had installed air purifiers in most of the rooms in their houses in order to reduce the harmful effects of pollution. However, they were under the impression that Lodhi Garden would reduce their exposure to the air pollution levels and have expressed shock upon learning our findings. One of the walkers also opined that there are no measures to control pollution levels whatsoever and that the most important thing to notice is that the younger generation will suffer the most because of pollution. “There’s no future for you all in this kind of pollution levels” he said.  

A morning walker and a naturopath shared her observation of an exponential increase in the number of asthma cases in the last few years and that most of her patients suffered from chronic bronchial ailments. She has also disclosed that she suffers from eye irritation and eye watering due to the pollution in the air. Our findings on air pollution levels inside Lodhi Garden left her flabbergasted! She feels that there’s an immediate need to curb the air pollution levels in the city as it can worsen respiratory ailments and cause serious damage to people’s health. She also felt that the city as a whole, along with the Govt needs to proactively participate by making a conscious choice to use the public transport systems that can help reduce the pollution levels. 

Aishwarya Madineni is a campaigner at Greenpeace India

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