Some Solutions to Combat Delhi Smog

Since the past decade, Delhi has been witnessing one of the world’s worst smog ever in October and November. Diwali and farmers are blamed every year for causing such a hazardous situation for the national capital. However, Delhi shies away from changing itself to solve the problem once and for all. It is easy to put the blame game on others, and do nothing. The Delhi Government has taken some steps to minimize air pollution, but it is usually too little too late.

More than the Delhi Government, the current infrastructure and apathy of the citizens towards the environment of Delhi are more responsible for the Great Smog. Many of Delhi’s power plants are located in the suburbs, which are completely closed during the smog period. Construction work that generates too much fly ash is also halted all across Delhi. Usually, the order from the Government comes after Delhi gets completely engulfed in smog. On the other hand, little changes in lifestyle and infrastructure could have worked better for Delhi, which exists in a place in other parts of the country. Some of them are listed below.

1)Use Delhi Metro :
Delhi metro is one of the quickest, cleanest, and easiest modes of transportation in Delhi. The carbon footprints of Delhi Metro is significantly lower than that of all other transportation. Delhi metro has expanded to connect every nook and corner of the national capital. Delhi metro over the years is increasingly becoming more and more eco-friendly by installing solar panels, providing buses and e-rickshaw, and even taxis for last-mile connectivity. Despite all the good efforts, Delhi metro is yet to attract every commuter across the city owing to its expensive ticketing costs. Kolkata metro may be an example of a cheap metro which attracted commuters from all classes due to its cheap rates.

2)Expand Delhi Suburban Railway :
Similar to the Delhi Metro, Delhi has a good network of railway lines towards the suburban cities of Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonipat, and Meerut. However, most of the tracks are used for long-distance trains and freight trains. Delhi has a ring railway which remains completely disused today. Suburban services are unattractive to the citizens, having little or no interchange with major bus or metro stops. Delhi does not have a monorail, tram, or any other form of transit other than the metro. Thus reliant on the usage of roads is heavy, causing huge traffic jams. Local trains of Mumbai are a good example of how suburban railways are used by a large chunk of the city population.

3)Lack of Greenery :
Delhi never used to lack greenery despite being the capital of various dynasties and empires. The Mughals and even the British were fond of gardens and open spaces which serves not only as a place for recreation but also as a source of fresh air and oxygen. Delhi today has grown beyond its borders and has eaten down even the small pockets of greenery that remained. Today only the southern parts of Delhi have some open space, where big, old trees are being felled for fields, locally called maidans, for sports and yoga. Nearby cities like Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra have significantly less pollution due to large areas of natural vegetation within the city boundaries.

4)Unreliable Bus Service :
Bus service across the city is not that reliable either, prompting most people to use either private cars or bikes for transportation. Private cars and bikes are the biggest sources of air pollution in the city. Chennai has an excellent network of bus service catering 80% of the local transportation. Buses in Delhi are usually off-route, unfriendly, infrequent, and irregular, apart from being expensive, causing most of the population to stay away from using them.

5)Promotion of Green Fireworks :
No steps have been taken by the Government to stop the sale of banned fireworks, which cause too much pollution. Green fireworks, on the other hand, release significantly lower amounts of pollutants, thus can curb the sudden spike in pollution levels just after Diwali. As green fireworks are a bit on the pricier side, most sellers do not sell them to attract more customers. The Government, instead of promoting green fireworks and banning the illegal, is confused about what rules to apply. Banning illegal fireworks and promoting green fireworks comes way too late when most crackers are sold, and the crackers are unclassified whether illegal or not. Assam and the north-eastern states are doing well in this regard strictly allowing only green fireworks to be sold.

We all need to join hands and save our environment. Can you suggest some measures to do so? Tell us in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Maintaining Covid-19 Protocols this Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights, is the biggest festival of Hinduism. Apart from the rituals, and worshipping Ma Laxmi or Ma Kali, Diwali is the time when people burn firecrackers, light their homes, and draw rangolis. Diwali also sees a large migration of the working class of big cities to their birth village or city. As the third wave of Covid-19 looms large after Dussehra, such massive migration may spread Covid-19 even in remote corners of the country according to some experts.

The return of workers, students, and other professionals is impossible to stop, given people seem to have forgotten all about the horrific first and second waves of Covid-19. However, what can be stopped is the celebration in a large gathering. People are hoping to make the most of it this year, as was evident in Durga Puja in West Bengal. The Covid-19 cases in Kolkata and its neighbourhood shot up past 500 from below 200 before the Puja. And studies have revealed a new trend that most of the cases of virus contraction were in individuals receiving double doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Not only the Puja pandals, shopping centres and restaurants are major spreaders, apart from late-night parties that became active after the State Government lifted the night curfew during the festival. Night clubs and parties have accounted for most of the second wave cases and also is the biggest threat to start off the third wave.

So, should we not celebrate Diwali this year? Experts warn only on gathering and not on the celebration. Every year, Diwali is celebrated at every home with mostly family members. So, the rituals themselves can be done in isolation at home. Marketing is a major concern, and it is best to opt for local markets and shops in the neighbourhood, or online shopping, rather than gather at a shopping mall. Markets have off-late became extremely crowded in this festive season, where hardly anyone is following Covid-19 protocols. The one who is sick or is showing Covid-19 symptoms should take a rest in isolation as this will not only improve the health but also help in curbing any contracted virus. Pandal hopping, especially in parts of West Bengal, should be avoided with no entry allowed inside Puja pandals. Wearing a mask properly when going outside and washing hands frequently are some known Covid-19 protocols people have forgotten nowadays.

Staying at home and following the festival rituals is probably the best option for this Diwali than a late night party that may turn into a super-spreader. Despite taking double vaccine shots, anyone is at risk of contracting the virus, as is evident in recent studies in Covid-19 cases across West Bengal. So, this Diwali, let’s follow the festival’s rituals in their true sense, and maintain the most essential protocol of Covid-19, staying at home and thus avoiding a possible third wave in the future.

Written by – Himadri Paul

5 Unique Places to celebrate Diwali in Kolkata

Written by Himadri Paul

Diwali, the festival of lights.

Who does not know about Diwali? It is not only celebrated all across India, but also in many countries around the world, and is very famous with the Indian Diaspora. In India, Diwali has wide variety of forms due to local cultures and philosophical leaders. In the eastern part of India, where Durga puja is the dominant festival among the Bengalis, Diwali takes the form of Kali pujo. And with it, comes many unique features that only Kolkata has. Let us look at those important places in and near Kolkata, where unique celebrations of Diwali are seen with unique stories.

1)Kalighat Temple:

Though there are many theories regarding the origin of the city Kolkata, the most widely supported one is that it was previously called Kalikshetra meaning the Abode of Kali. The pronunciation gradually changed to Kalikata as in Ain-i-Akhbari and Calcutta during the British. The Kali temple of Kalighat area in Kolkata has been a one of the 51 Sakti Peeths around the world and is a very old place of worship. The Diwali is a special festival here, even today it has unique celebration where lamb is sacrificed to serve the Goddess. The temple draws a large crowd of Sakti followers from around the world during Diwali for centuries, and even today it is a pride of all Kolkatans.

Kalighat Temple

2)Dakshineshwar Temple:

Rani Rashmoni, wife of a wealthy zamindar and an important personality in the history of reformation in India, sailed a fleet from Kolkata port to reach Varanasi, the most sacred city in Hinduism. That night in a dream, she heard Goddess Kali telling her to drop the anchor at dawn and set up a temple there. So Rani set up a temple at Dakshineshwar, which is the northern suburbs of the city. Even today, it is the most popular place of worship in Kolkata, being situated beside the scenic Hugli river. Ma Kali here is worshipped here as Ma Bhabatarini, and one look at the temple will suggest how beautiful it is.

Dakshineshwar Temple

3)Belur Math and its famous Diwali celebration:

Swami Vivekananda, after becoming a prime devotee of Shri Ramkrishna, who was also the first head-priest at Dakshineshwar temple, founded the Ramkrishna Mission for carrying out philanthropic activities, and training young men for the charity works. Although located in the neighbouring district of Howrah, it is very near to Kolkata, on the opposite bank of Dakshineshwar temple. Diwali is the time when the temple is nicely decorated with special arati performed in the evening. Belur Math preserves the ideals of unity among all religions, as evident in the unique architecture of the monastery. It is also an important place of pilgrimage for devotees all around the world specially at the time of Diwali.

Belur Math

4)Kamarpukur-Jairambati:

Not far from Kolkata in the Hooghly district are the villages Kamarpukur and Joyrambati situated side by side. Kamarpukur is the birthplace of Shri Ramkrishna, the first head-priest of Dakshineshwar Kali temple and an important religious reformer during the 19th century socio-cultural reforms in Bengal. Joyrambati is the birthplace of Ma Sarada, Shri Ramkrishna’s mother, who is looked upon by the devotees of Shri Ramkrishna as the Holy Mother. The twin pilgrimage hotspots near Kolkata can be covered in a single day.

Kamarpukur-Jairambati

5)Barasat and Diwali celebration:

Want to have Durga puja like pandal-hopping experience during Diwali? Head to Barasat! The north-eastern corner of the city is set alive during the Kali puja with some amazingly crafted puja pandals. Barasat is well connected by rail and road and is also a very old locality of the city. Localities of Madhyamgram and Dum Dum too boasts of some really good puja parikrama experiences.

Apart from firecrackers, lighting diyas and candles, drawing rangolis, or we Bengalis call it aplonas, and worshipping the advent of Ma Lakshmi or Ma Kali, these were some unique features about Diwali in Kolkata. This year, say no to fireworks, maintain social distancing, and have a happy and safe Diwali.

Barasat station

To read more on the subject: https://www.whatshot.in/kolkata/here-are-5-ways-you-can-enjoy-diwali-in-the-city-of-joy-c-18232#:~:text=Ganga%20Aarti%20At%20Howrah&text=As%20the%20distant%20Howrah%20Bridge,your%20near%20and%20dear%20ones.

To read more interesting articles: https://youngindianrevolution.com/blog-by-youth/