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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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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause

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Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year
Air Pollution Linked to 3.2 Million New Diabetes Cases in One Year. Pixabay

Outdoor air pollution even at levels deemed safe may be associated with an increased risk of diabetes globally, with India being at a greater risk due to lack of air cleaning policies, scientists said in a report in Lancet.

The findings showed that air pollution contributes to development of diabetes by reducing insulin production and triggering inflammation, which prevents the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs.

The overall risk of pollution-related diabetes is tilted more toward lower-income countries such as India that lack the resources for environmental mitigation systems and clean-air policies, Lancet Planetary Health report said.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, from the University of Washington in St. Louis, US.

“We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” Aly explained.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers estimated that pollution contributed to a little more than three million new diabetes cases globally in 2016, which represented about 14 per cent of all new diabetes cases globally that year.

Nearly 10 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes, representing about 14 per cent of all years of healthy life lost due to diabetes from any cause.

According to the UN 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, an estimated 4.2 million people died as a result of high levels of ambient air pollution.

Also Read: Eat Walnuts to Ward off Diabetes Risk

In the study, the team analysed data from more than one million participants without a history of diabetes, who were followed for a median of eight and a half years.

They also looked at particulate matters, airborne microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, soot and liquid droplets.

Poverty-stricken countries facing a higher diabetes-pollution risk include Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Guyana, while richer countries such as France, Finland and Iceland experience a lower risk, the study said. (IANS)