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Waiting For The Government To Look Into Our Concerns Is Perhaps Another Way Of Passing The Buck: Tavleen Gill-Akoi

“So many trees have been cut down to pave way for development. Add to this rampant construction, black vehicular emissions, and a huge dump outside Delhi which is always on fire. This is what the children of Delhi are breathing in", Tavleen Gill-Akoi


Air pollution in Delhi has touched calamitous levels in the last few days, as a thick grey smog hung low across the region. The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on the grave situation, "Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of the year."

Poor visibility, choking lungs, respiratory pressure, and watery eyes has prompted the government to sanction a temporary shutdown of the education system until next week.

Expressing her concern over the deplorable situation, Tavleen Gill-Akoi, Director Wildlife Jim Jungle Retreat Corbett, Gallerist, and a mother of two, shares how she grew up reading chapters in her school text books about trees and their implication on our environment. Today, unfortunately, the dire consequences that we feared have come to pass. “So many trees have been cut down to pave way for development. Add to this rampant construction, black vehicular emissions, and a huge dump outside Delhi which is always on fire. This is what the children of Delhi are breathing in.”

Tavleen is fortunate enough to have a place to send her children away too before her son's raspy breathing turns into a full-blown asthma attack and her daughter's constant cough that won't let her sleep through the night. Most of the population doesn’t have that luxury, unfortunately.

“If Delhi cannot find a solution (and there are many) to this problem, which we were warned about from my childhood, I’m afraid we will be raising children into sickly adults who will never be able to perform to their full potential. From my generation itself the number of people who are suffering from various autoimmune disorders and other old age diseases is alarming”, she added.

“Waiting for the Government to look into our concerns is perhaps another way of passing the buck. When it comes to the intangible, imagination and intelligence takes a backseat. We are here today because we refused to care about the future. It is the time we became cognizant of the choices we make going forward,” stresses Tavleen.

Avantika Poddar Dalmia, Past Chairperson, Young FICCI Ladies Organisation, New Delhi and parent of two children has a slightly different stance and says that, “What we as regular Samaritans of society can do, or refrain from in order to help combat the crisis air pollution crisis we are facing?” Avantika feels that “Instead of blaming others around us which is the easiest thing to do, it is time we face our own conscience and call a spade a spade.”

She posed an important question of how we are contributing to this smog too. The answer to which will determine the levels of air quality. She asks, “Do we think twice about our actions when it comes to burning of crops which is the major cause of air pollution?"  

She asks, “Do we think twice about our actions and how they affect the environment? How many times have you sat in the car, at a traffic light or in the parking with the ignition on?” 

“I plead guilty!,” honestly declares Avantika. “How often have you enjoyed that wonderful warm bonfire in the winter over a beautiful winter evening?” A guilty pleasure for those who can afford. “Have you ever thought of using a public conveyance, like the Metro? It's nice, clean and safe. Or are you driven by the need for instant gratification of pulling your car out of the driveway in a heartbeat, crisscrossing your way mindlessly through traffic?” “How many of us refrained from burning firecrackers, education levels aside?” 

She opines, “It is time that a solution was found to handle the burning of the crops. The stubble has a good use as fodder for cattle. There can be a way the farmer can be incentivized to let someone help him clear his field of the stubble without having to pay for it, or even better- if someone can pay him for the stubble and clear it too. It can solve the fodder and the labour problem together, and the farmer won’t burn his field.”

According to Dalmia, “Negativity causes chaos, positivity creates possibilities and solutions.”

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