Thursday, Jun 01, 2023

For These Young Minds, Pollution Is A Bigger Menace Than Others

For These Young Minds, Pollution Is A Bigger Menace Than Others

Children from economically weak backgrounds face the worst of outdoor air pollution

“I don’t even remember when was the last time I saw a clear blue sky. I constantly feel dizzy, and always down with cold. But I guess, I have to live with it

They play by the roadside and live in highly polluted localities, unmindful of the toxic air they breathe in or the havoc caused by the fine particulates on their immature lungs. But then they are at an age when the wicked ways of the world or the pitfalls of living in some of the world’s most polluted cities are yet to register on their young minds. Some are children of the roads at Nizam­uddin, one of the most congested and polluted localities in the capital. These children cannot go to school because educational institutions are closed due to rising pollution. And yet they spend their waking time outside, as killer air swirls about them. The irony could not have been more stark.

“My grandchild, who is eight months old, constantly suffers from cold and wheezing. We are always breathing emissions from vehicles. There is no escape from this.

—Manuwara Begum, Garbage collector Netaji Nagar, Delhi

Photograph by Dinesh Parab

“Once my son started going to school, he developed severe breathing issues. Since Mumbai is very humid, besides being a highly polluted city, children are very likely to get asthma

—Priyanka Kar, Mumbai

“During the winters, I have severe breathing problems. Sometime I feel better with steam inhalation but there are days when I can hardly breathe. My mother has to rush me to hospital for nebulisation.

—Mehak Arya, 12, Chanakyapuri, Delhi

(This appeared in the print edition as "Smoke Dreams In Our Eyes")


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