Delhi’s Heartening Efforts for a Super Life #CelebratingSuper

“Are you able to breathe?” came the first question from my friends when they saw my Instagram story of arrival in Delhi just 10 days after Diwali last year in November.

“Yes! The air doesn’t seem as bad as the news showed it,” I replied surprised as I emerged from the underground metro station at Aerocity.

“It was quite bad in the 2-3 days immediately after Diwali; completely smoky and posing difficulty in breathing,” my aunt told me minutes later as I reached their house.

Over the next week of my stay I realized Delhi was already quite cold for this time of the year. There was smog in the air like there usually is at the end of December and the sunlight wasn’t much. I never had any breathing or health issues but I have never really been fond of Delhi’s ‘no sunlight and smoggy days’ since my college days- it made me feel sick and de-energised.

Delhi as seen during a take-off from the IGI Airport, June 2017

No wonder right now the capital was being touted as the most polluted city in the world. For someone who has always loved the city, hearing this felt bad. What felt good at the same time was the understanding that Delhiites showed towards this serious matter. Enlisting below a few heartening steps that I have seen being taken over the last couple of years by the government, MNCs and mostly, the common man of Delhi, for a brighter tomorrow and super life. 

1. Plant a tree

A few months ago, the local grocery store in our colony gave out seeds to the customers for free along with any purchase they made. There was no huge objective behind it but the kids would flock to him to buy chocolates or chips and get excited when they got the seeds free. My young cousin, who had never planted a sapling in his life, came home with the seeds and urged my aunt to get a few pots so he could plant them. The small initiative probably didn’t make much of a difference to Delhi’s air quality, but it certainly made a positive impact in the minds of the kids who got those seeds to take care of their environment.

For Diwali this year, telecom giant Vodafone Delhi took a similar initiative of #CelebratingSuper and gave away ‘Super Crackers’ in the form of plant seeds at all their stores. This was simply done so as to urge people to celebrate a Green Diwali and with their huge customer base of nearly 1.2 crore customers in Delhi-NCR alone, it did manage to reach a large audience.

2. Beautification under flyovers of SDMC

A recent effort by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has been to beautify the areas below the several flyovers across the city. When I first read about it, I thought it was a fruitless effort- they would paint it, install a few structures and it would all crumble in a few months. But I was surprised when I saw it getting implemented in a different way- they were planting trees and converting the areas into gardens and walkways, adding some green cover to the concrete structures. Each flyover was beautified with a different theme. 

Flyover beautification in Delhi. Photo Courtesy: Twitter @LtGovDelhi

Although I still feel that using the areas as parking lots is a more practical thing to do at times of lack of parking spaces, it was a welcome relief to see the planting of trees and saplings there.

3. Odd-Even Scheme

People in Delhi are always seen as an arrogant lot. Most of them would take their cars out even for the smallest distance simply because they own a car. Any household with more than one working member, easily has at least two cars. Surprisingly, when the Odd-Even scheme was implemented in 2016, people supported it. It was a welcome relief to see the roads less crowded and people taking up car-pooling actively in addition to using the Metro.

4. Bus stops with air-purifiers & Wi-Fi

I regularly used DTC buses during my college days. Standing and waiting at the bus stop isn’t one of the easiest things to do- The pollution in the air due to the hundreds of speeding vehicles and the usual Delhi heat make it superbly difficult.

A few weeks after the Diwali air pollution last year, Vodafone set up air purifiers at the Safdarjung hospital bus stop and then at the ITO stop. It was a great marketing initiative that people had never seen before. Curiosity took the interest of people passing by the areas and stopping over to breathe some fresh air before moving on. The initiative sounded wonderful and although I never actually used this bus shelter, it was a very positive concept which I hope gets replicated at more bus stops soon.

Vodafone's air-purifying bus shelter in Delhi. Image Courtesy: Google/Business Standard, December 2016

Although the AAP government promised free Wi-Fi hotspots across the city, the dream is yet to be realized. While Google is providing Wi-Fi hotspots at all major railway stations across the country now, Vodafone created the first Wi-Fi bus stop in Gurgaon.

5. SC’s Cracker ban this Diwali

The recent cracker ban in Delhi NCR by the Supreme Court was surprisingly hailed as a welcome move by the majority of people. When the news first came I thought there was going to be widespread communal tension, but Diwali day surprised me. For a change my facebook timeline wasn’t filled with photos of friends bursting crackers, instead there were updates from them about the peaceful air this year. The later part of the evening did see a lot of sound of crackers bursting which was criticized by people. What was really positive about it was the fact that people, including small school children, were promoting a crackerless Diwali just so the Delhi they live in doesn’t become a living hell like last year’s Diwali.

They always talk about the 'spirit of Mumbai' in the face of a disaster. I am glad there is a 'spirit of Delhi' when it comes to doing good for the environment.
Are you aware of some other efforts taken by people in your area for a cleaner and super life in Delhi? Do share in the comments below.

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  1. Well written and quite informative. I knew only about the odd even scheme.

  2. I visit Delhi often for work and there's contrast difference in the air from other cities incl Mumbai, where I live.
    I believe, these new campaigns and initiatives will definitely help Delhi in the long run and they are necessary for growth as with health comes wealth. Great post antarik!

  3. I haven't been to Delhi in a long time to see so many changes, or even the initiatives but Delhi definitely needs them a lot. The citizens need to be aware and active. Amazing post! :D

    1. Good thing is the citizens are getting active in sustainable efforts :)

  4. It's been a year since I moved out of Delhi and came to London to study. Looking forward to all these positive changes when I return. I've been boasting about my Delhi to my friends, urging them to come and visit the capital and be astounded by its beauty. I hope I'm not let down :)

    1. You won't be let down by anything. But after a year in London, who knows! :P
      Enjoy your last few days there and then welcome back :D

  5. Delhi is my home and it makes me happy that the government is trying to improve it's atmospheric conditions. But the real task needs to be done by us citizens. We need to be responsible if we really want to see our Delhi clean and green again.

  6. Glad to read such an article that can inspire others to do what's right for the environment! More power to you

    1. Guess Delhi is going to be a lot different by the time you return to the city :)

  7. Delhi really needs to take a break. Hope people take initiative and make it a success.

    1. Good thing is people are taking initiatives now and it's so good to see small kids educating their parents :)


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