Every year as winter season approaches, the Indian national capital becomes a gas chamber. Stubble burning in the neighboring states, vehicular emissions, pollutants from construction sites – all contribute to the hazardous levels of pollution in Delhi. Such is the condition that vulnerable people have been left with little option but to relocate to cities with better AQI.
I can breathe now,” says Deepikah Rahul Bhardwaj, 33, taking in the air of Taleigao in Goa. In May 2017, the designer and multidisciplinary artist left Delhi with her one-year old son after living through another dreadful winter in the capital when the air turned into a grey, pollutant-heavy blanket. She suffers from chronic bronchitis and the attacks became more frequent and severe in winter.
“This has been taxing on our family. But we look at it as an investment in our son’s future health as the first five years are crucial for kids,” says Deepikah. “And my chest does not hurt anymore either.”
TV anchor and producer Mayur Sharma is relieved that he doesn’t have to worry about AQI anymore. The 47-year-old from Delhi packed his bags for good last year. He moved to Goa, worried sick about the health of his 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. The family tried to escape Delhi winter on a trial basis in 2016 and then shifted permanently a year later. “We have settled in well and it’s a relief that my kids can play and grow up without the alarm of red AQI days,” he says.