Has the desire to seize every moment of the day ever taken hold of you? To live life to the fullest, cultivate a healthy lifestyle? Wake up early, start the day with a vigorous activity, perhaps an early morning jog? I would not recommend it. Those early morning outings may just kill you sooner. Yes, […]
Has the desire to seize every moment of the day ever taken hold of you? To live life to the fullest, cultivate a healthy lifestyle? Wake up early, start the day with a vigorous activity, perhaps an early morning jog? I would not recommend it. Those early morning outings may just kill you sooner.
Yes, it is an unfortunate fact. These healthy lifestyle plans are not for this city. In parts of Europe, maybe, or even isolated villages in India. But definitely not in any of the big metropolises that are spread around the country. And definitely not its financial capital. Because Mumbai is home to the silent killer we know as pollution.
We are all well aware that the city is heavily polluted, we can even see it in the heat of the day, but only a few of us are privy to the true extent of its dominion over this area. Those few of us, who have to wake up and get out of the house before the sun rises, are the people who have encountered the sheer volume of pollution that resides not only in Mumbai, but the majority of Maharashtra, and India as well. The heat of the day causes all these pollutants to rise, but the cold climate of the night gives the heavier gases, including Carbon-dioxide, the chance to settle down low. It is during the time between 4:00am and 6:30am that we can really see the amount of smog that lies over the streets. It covers the roads like an ominous blanket, silently threatening to suffocate us the day it gains enough strength. Already, it is making itself known in skin and throat irritation, reddening of the eyes, coughing sprees, respiratory disorders like bronchitis and asthma, and cancer.
Being a serious football fanatic, I wake up early to play football at 6:30 in the morning. I live in Lokhandwala, Andheri, and when I have to catch a rickshaw in the morning, I’m often left coughing and spluttering in the thick smog. The smell of smoke has been so strong sometimes that I’ve had to breathe through my T-shirt sleeve just to rid myself of the burning sensation the smog leaves in my windpipe. Unsurprisingly, I caught a cold and had to suffer weeks of having a blocked nose, irritated throat and burning lungs. This of course affected my playing and thinking too, and succeeded in making my days a proper nuisance. There is nothing as annoying as having to bend over an exam paper, whilst constantly sniffing so that your nose doesn’t run in front of everyone else.
But this is only me, and I’m relatively healthy. I shudder to think of the plight of asthmatics when they have to face such conditions. Let me put some statistics in front of you so that you may comprehend their dilemma.
Maharashtra has 13 coal-fired power plants that burned 71.5 million tonnes of coal between 2011 and 2012, in order to generate electricity. These 13 plants emitted more pollutants than 98 other plants across the country, propelling Maharashtra to the dubious distinction of taking 1st place as the most polluted state. In particulate pollution, Maharashtra stood second only to Uttar Pradesh. These statistics were taken from ‘Coal based thermal power plants in India – An assessment of atmospheric emissions, particulate pollution and health impacts’. In the world, India ranks Number 3 in the most polluted countries list, 1st being China and the 2nd place going to the U.S. Even though the CO2 emission was only a quarter of that of China, the figure still stands at a whopping 596 million tons! This showed a 43% increase in the last five years. Even though the U.S ranks number 2, with an emission of 1,403 million tons, in the last 5 years they have seen a decrease of 11%.
It’s apparent that these statistics are nothing to be proud of. There is an urgent need to be aware of these facts, and move beyond simple awareness into serious action. The average temperature of Mumbai during April is 91 degrees Fahrenheit (32.8 degrees Celsius), and the predicted rise in temperature by the United States Environmental Protection Agency is 2 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, which means the temperature in April 2100 will shoot up to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (39.2 degrees Celsius). These aren’t very good conditions to be leaving for our future generations.
Simple measures to reduce pollutant emissions can be employed right from the home level, to larger public measures being undertaken by the entire nation. Just think of it, if household members slept in one room during the summer, and made use of only one air-conditioner instead of sitting in 2 separate rooms and using two air-conditioners, it immediately saves half the electricity consumption. Using power saving electronics is also a good idea, and works out to be more economical too, in the long run. When half a billion people use cycles, or walk for short distances, just think of the amount of fuel we could save!! The Bajaj Platina has a mileage of 90 kmpl. A 1 kilometre journey uses 0.01 litres of fuel. Then we have to consider a return journey using another 0.01 litres of fuel. If instead, a cycle was used you could save 0.02 litres. When 500 million people (roughly half the population of the country) do that just one day, the fuel saved is 10 million litres! And this is only considering a single instance. Now if this was done regularly…
With simple steps we must begin. It is important for a human to first learn how to crawl before running. These very steps that may seem so insignificant to us, when played out on a global scale, can produce effects we can’t possibly dream of. It is the lifestyle of people that we must target, not a company, or government. Their turn will come, but first let’s switch off that unused fan at home.