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Battling pollution or compromising on safety, Delhi women face tough choice

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New Delhi: The Delhi government’s decision to curb vehicles on the capital’s roads has given hope of battling pollution, but the measure, announced on an experimental basis, has become a cause of concern for women, who fear it would compromise their safety.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday, was asked about the safety aspect when people leave their cars and take public transport.

“Would you guarantee my pocket is not picked or a woman is safe in public transport,” a male questioner asked.

Prefacing his reply with a “Delhi Police does not come under me” disclaimer, Kejriwal, who had announced on Friday that from January 1, 2016, odd and even numbers would be permitted on alternate days, said, “People are as safe in public transport as they are in private vehicles.”

Most women, while equally expressing concern about the environment, differed with the chief minister when it came to feeling safe on Delhi roads.

“I am not happy with this decision, public transport in Delhi is not very good and you have a tough time trying to take an auto-rickshaw.What are the women expected to do?” asked Diksha Saxena, an operations manager with a private firm.

“Even to walk on the roads of Delhi, you need armour.The idea sounds good but is not practical,” Saxena told a news agency.

Alka Kaushik, a freelance travel writer, said, “Its a senseless order, an imported concept which is being implemented without seeing the ground realities. Imagine, I cam use my even-number plate car one day, and the next day, I should use the insufficient public transport on the same route.If I can use public transport on a day, why not every day?

“But is that possible? Look at the route from Indirapuram (in suburban Ghaziabad) to Delhi University. The kind of people you come across while travelling, does the chief minister realise that? A car is not a convenience for me but a necessity. It is a solution to the inefficiency of authorities who could not give the people a good public transport system in all these years,” she added.

Kakoli, a Delhi government employee who did not want to give her surname, echoed this view.

“This should have been the second step.the first should have been ensuring there is a public transport system that can support half of Delhi’s population that drives on a single day,” Kakoli said.

“I am a single working woman, my car gives me the independence of movement, and to chose my working hours.If I cannot use my vehicle half of the month, what options do I have to fall back on,” she asked.

“There are couples who have two cars and have both odd and even number plates.Should I go looking for a partner with a different number plate.It is a compromise on my independence,” Kakoli maintained.

Shweta Arya, who works for a private firm, is not against using public transport but felt it was not an option if late working hours are involved.

“We cannot refuse work that spills over to late hours.If I am being asked not to use my car, what options are there? What if I need to go to hospital at a late hour? Or I have to go out of town.What are the options? ” she questioned.

Arya is however not all against the idea and suggests that the government should provide other options.

“The government must provide some options. For example if I am not using my car, there should be  a certain number of auto-rickshaws designated for our use, or there can be car pooling, the government needs to provide an alternative,” Arya told news agencies.

Ragini Jain, a home maker living in west Delhi, said while she is happy that it will mean reducing pollution, she also wondered how she will perform her day-to-day chores.

“There are numerous things to be done on a given day. Picking up children from school, getting groceries, managing a medical emergency since I have old parents at home, whom should I ask for help? Can anyone help you every day,” Jain asked.

“At the same time, I know some day we have to take a decision, for the sake of our children. Perhaps there is some more homework that needs to be done by the government,” she said.

A supportive voice, however, came from Divyani Garg, a doctor who found the idea good.

“its a good idea as per me. It’s a reasonable option to decrease the toxic levels of Delhi’s air pollution. I don’t mind the inconvenience as I am looking at the long-term benefits,” she said.

(IANS)

(Picture credit:www.huffingtonpost.in)

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Exposure To Air Pollution Linked To Breast cancer: Study

Government can plan for new designs for industrial and commercial facilities to cut down on the occupational exposures.

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Air pollution shortens life by more than one year in India. Wikimedia Commons

Women working near busy roads are at high risk of developing breast cancer, due to traffic-related air pollution, researchers have warned.

The team, from University of Stirling in Scotland, analysed the case of a woman who developed breast cancer after spending 20 years working as a border guard at the busiest commercial border crossing in North America.

The woman was one of, at least, five other border guards who developed breast cancer within 30 months of each other and, at another nearby crossing, a cluster of seven other cases was noted.

Pollution, pollutants, India, air pollution, WHO, diwali
India’s Rashtrapati Bhawan, or the Presidential Palace is partly visible due to smog as traffic plies on Rajapth, the ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi. VOA

According to Michael Gilbertson, the findings “infer a causal relationship” between breast cancer and very high exposures to traffic-related air pollution containing mammary carcinogens. A link between nightshift work and cancer was also identified.

“This new research indicates the role of traffic-related air pollution in contributing to the increasing incidence of breast cancer in the general population,” Gilbertson said.

The group of women all developed a cancer believed to have been caused by exhaust fumes in what researchers have branded a ‘new occupational disease’.

There is a one in 10,000 chance the cases were a coincidence, the study published in the journal New Solutions said, because the cancers were all so similar and close together.

air pollution, breast cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

A review of previous research confirmed that BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes — which try to stop tumours growing — can be “silenced” by exposures to dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – both found in exhaust fumes.

BRCA2 gets rapidly degraded in the presence of aldehydes – also components of exhaust fumes.

Also Read: Chemotherapy May Not Be Needed To Treat Breast Cancer: Study

“There is much more research to be undertaken,” Gilbertson said. “But we now have plausible mechanisms for inferring how the BRCA1/2 tumour suppressors in this highly-exposed border guard became dysfunctional and likely contributed to the ongoing epidemic of sporadic, early onset, premenopausal breast cancer among her colleagues.

“With this new knowledge, industry and government can plan for new designs for industrial and commercial facilities to cut down on the occupational exposures to traffic-related air pollution,” Gilbertson said. (IANS)