Hindustan Times (Delhi)

‘A small step can make big difference, people often join me in dousing roadside fires’

- Ritam Halder ritam.halder@hindustant­imes.com (As told to Ritam Halder)

NEWDELHI: I have seen drastic changes in the air quality in my colony over two decades. There was a time, just before smart phones became a thing, when the roads here used to be littered with waste from fireworks on Diwali evenings. While neighbours competed in bursting crackers, the air would get filled with smoke.

In recent times, however, I have noticed a steady decline in use of fireworks in our colony.

Ever since I became conscious of the environmen­tal deteriorat­ion in Delhi, I started doing something about it. To begin with, I would extinguish roadside fires, which is one of the causes of rising pollution levels. It doesn’t take much to pour water on small fires. A small step by an individual can make a big difference. At times, strangers walking by join me to douse the fires. For a bigger fire, I call the Delhi fire service and wait till they arrive. Earlier, we would see leaves being burnt on every street, house helps burning whatever they found (garden pipe, broken slippers, food wrappers, plastic bottles etc) for warmth, and even burning garbage for disposal.

In collaborat­ion with the RWA, we started composting dead leaves. We also make the residents aware of the implicatio­n of fires so that they can keep their staff warm, without causing pollution.

This year, we faced one of the worst episodes of pollution.

think we need to focus on greenery. Trees were planted in NFC only a few decades ago and most were growing fine. However, as more people shifted here, greenery bore the brunt.

In winters, people cut trees to make room for sunlight, which is illegal. The forest department and environmen­t ministry should send out constant public service announceme­nts about trees. People must be informed about how trees reduce pollution, why they shouldn’t be cut, and how the health of trees can be improved.

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