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Winter gloom writ large on wannabe global city

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By Sidharth Mishra

Delhi after a long-time has seen this gloomy beginning to the New Year. Much to the relief of the citizens, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) was ‘large-hearted’ enough to bring down the GRAP from level four to level three thus allowing BS-III (petrol) and BS-IV (diesel) vehicles on the roads. However, the weather isn’t in any way adding to cheer.

If one recalls correctly, till the turn of this century during the coldwave days the government would arrange for bonfires in marketplaces and other residential areas, which led to small assemblies and brought some cheer in the otherwise bitter cold environment. This today sounds like a folktale.

The harsh anti-pollution norms have ensured that there are no public bonfires today in the national capital region. Thus no assemblies and no scope for winter chat over ‘chai’ under shivering cold. The authorities may say that we have allowed heaters but then you don’t go around switching a heater at the roadside. Huge gas burners to keep the public places warm are still to make their debut in the national Capital or its surroundings.

What’s adding to cold environment are the MCDs lorries spraying water from early morning on the roads making them muddy in addition to adding to the chill. One is not very sure if spraying water on a gloomy winter morning would reduce pollution in the air but it certainly makes one shiver in the mind.

However, none among those responsible for city’s administration seem to care about how to bring some cheer in the lives of the people of the national capital. Thankfully the truckers did not go on the proposed strike lest we would have been left burning deep holes in our pockets buying vegetables from the market.

It would be sometime before the count of the ‘cold-deaths’ are officially released but the Delhi government has its own explanation for homeless people left battling severe cold. Its prominent Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj was heard saying, “Centre and DDA are rendering people homeless by demolishing slums and JJ Cluster houses in Delhi in winter. Has the BJP government and their organisations ever thought about how these children will go to school? According to law, the government cannot demolish houses without making alternative arrangements.”

Well a government whose head, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, has Damocles’ Sword hanging over head in the form of the pending summons from the Enforcement Directorate, whose two senior most ministers have been incarcerated facing corruption charges, cannot be expected to do much except look for photo opportunities to remain in news.

Over and above this, now they have the Mohalla Clinic scam to handle. The Lieutenant Governor, Vinay Kumar Saxena, has ordered a CBI probe into what is being touted as fake diagnotics scam. The probe would examine the allegations of fake diagnostic tests prescribed by the state-run Mohalla Clinics in order to benefit private labs.

Newspapers have mentioned that last year doctors were found not coming to Mohalla Clinics but still being shown as present and despite their absence, tests and medicines were being prescribed. The same news reports also mentioned that it was also found that tests were conducted on ghost patients. Following this, CBI probe was ordered.

The fresh probe comes days after Saxena ordered a probe by the same agency into the alleged supply of drugs that reportedly failed quality standard tests to Delhi government hospitals. So much for the world class healthcare system.

After what’s been mentioned above, do we really have the wherewithal to call ourselves a global city? Without checking on the other parameters, globally, we should have no qualms to state that we are the most polluted city, and its not just in the air quality but in governance too.

(First Published in The Morning Standard)

 

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