Delhi air pollution: Centre says no dust at Central Vista construction site!

One wonders, if dust from Central Vista can be contained, as the govt claimed in the Supreme Court, then why not elsewhere?

Construction near India Gate for Central Vista
Construction near India Gate for Central Vista

Giraj Sharma

Talking about the weather was once deemed to be a British trait. Not anymore. In the national capital, not just the weather but Air Quality Index (AQI) and particulate matter are now a part of most conversations. Particulate matter in the atmosphere arises from a wide variety of sources including construction activity. It is for this reason that a ban was imposed and re-imposed on all construction activities in Delhi and the National Capital Region by the Supreme Court. But the Centre informed the Supreme Court that work on the new parliament and the Central Vista “does not cause pollution” as measures have been taken to arrest the dust at these projects.

Dilliwalahs, who were complaining that the construction was adding to the pollution in a city that’s suffocating, must feel reassured. But, hey, if they can arrest dust emission from the Central Vista, as claimed in the court, then why can’t that practice become a standard operating proce-dure for all construction activities? Or is it some secret science nugget, similar to the claim that cloud cover helped our planes evade the enemy’s radars? Science, anyone?

No Test Cricket

Feroz Shah Kotla cricket grounds is now called the Arun Jaitley Stadium. It is here that cricket loving Dilliwalahs saw Sunny Gavaskar equal Don Bradman’s record of 29 Test centuries and watched Anil Kumble take 10 wickets. But then all this is history as pollution in the city during the cricket season ensures that BCCI avoids Delhi as a venue as no foreign team is willing to play Test cricket here.

The city recorded its worst November air in at least six years with 11 days of ‘severe’ pollution– worse than what it has been in recent years. Dilliwalahs didn’t experience even one ‘good’ day of air quality through the month. So out goes Test matches and comes in the wham-bang variety IPL–the cricket purists among Dilliwalahs will have to confine themselves to the damned idiot box or travel to other centres to watch Tests.

Bollywood Park, why?

Imagine the ‘yeh dosti’ sequence from Sholay with the motorbike made from scrap metals and Bachchan-Dharmendra duo looking up to you through broken bathroom tiles and faulty faucets. If a proposal of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) goes through, then we will have a Bollywood Park depicting the history of the Hindi film industry in an 8-acre park in Delhi. A park such as this in Mumbai is understandable but having it in Jangpura? And if it is in Delhi, then why restrict things to Bollywood? Why not history of Tamil, Malayalam, Punjabi, Telugu or Assamese cinema? Why not Bengali since Mamata didi’s party believes Bengalis in Delhi constitute the second largest linguis-tic bloc; or Bhojpuri, the lingua franca of the Purvanchalis? The project will seek CSR funds from large organis-ations and is likely to come to life on public-private partnership model since the SDMC coffers are in distress. One can hear a lot of Dilliwalahs saying– ‘what a waste!’

Shahidi Park

Perhaps to ward off digs at the Bollywood Park proposal such as the one above – SDMC is also planning to redevelop the Shahidi Park on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg to mark the 75th year of Independence.

The park is to have statues of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev among others, made out of waste material. It is at Shahidi Park that the anniversary of Quit India movement is celebrated every year – a movement in which, arguably, the parent organisation of those who rule the SDMC had no role to play. Wonder if Quit India movement celebrations will continue there after these new installations or will these be scuttled?

(The writer blogs at

Views are personal)

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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