12-year-old Arjun (name changed) sells toys and hawa sweets for 10 hours a day in the dusty Rajwada area. Photo – Sanjay Gehlod
Indore: We found Arjun (name changed), about 10-12 years old, selling Hawa sweets and small toys in the busiest Rajwada area of the cleanest city of the country, Indore. This kid lives in this old and very busy area of the city for about ten hours a day and sells toys here. There is heavy traffic from morning till night.
During this, Arjun stands here continuously. He doesn’t go to regular school, he says that his family members also set up shop around this area. People can be seen trying to get out of here immediately, coughing, in a short time amidst the traffic and dust. Although the shopkeepers of this area say that they have become used to it, so it does not affect them.
When Arjun is asked about this, his answer is the same. According to Arjun, it doesn’t matter to him, but he likes coming here because his goods sell well here and earn well.
A large number of such ‘working children’ are seen in Indore. These children are also seen selling goods like this. One of these children, Nitin, tells that he often keeps sneezing and coughing. Nitin, 14-15 years old, says, “There is always dust and smoke around. Breathing in it causes cold and cough.” Some other children also tell that their eyes burn when they stand in traffic, their nose often watery.
What to talk about the children who are living their life on the road-crossing, the air pollution of the city spoils the health of all kinds of children. For example, the road construction work is going on for a few months on Khandwa Road, its dust and smoke from the vehicles make all the people in the surrounding areas and especially the children sick whenever they want. Indore’s senior surgeon Dr. Parvinder Lubana, a resident of nearby posh colony Ranibagh, is extremely troubled by the polluted air around him. Dr. Lubana explains, “My four and six year old daughters are often falling ill due to cold, cough and fever due to this bad air. Being a senior doctor, I know how badly polluted air affects my daughters.”
Mhow, a few kilometers away from Indore, is like a suburb of this big city. Brijesh Ammonia lives in this green and more or less clean area. Brijesh explains, “The dust and traffic fumes on the roads bother my 13-year-old son. Cold and cough have become a common problem. According to them, along with the breath, pollution also enters the body, but they are not aware of its side effects.
In the same city, Dr. Ramashish Shukla is posted in the Department of Pediatrics at Madhya Bharat Hospital for the last four years. According to Dr. Shukla, “People do not understand the effects of air pollution, but that does not mean that there is no effect. Many times people complain about cold and cough of their children, but it is not a seasonal disease every time. Often it is also due to pollution. This pollution happens both inside and outside the house.
A little further from Indore, there is Pithampur Industrial Area, about 35 kilometers away. Complaints of air pollution are common in an industrial area. In Pithampur, people complain about pollution and how the air in the area is getting worse. However, when he is asked about the children, he does not have much to say. Sudha, who lives in Chhatrachaya Colony, says, the child has cold and cough, but she does not think that the reason behind it is air pollution. In fact, many people like Sudha have a misconception that air pollution does not have a bad effect on our health.
These children are seen amidst the dust and smoke rising due to the continuous movement of vehicles and road construction. Photo – Sanjay Gehlod
Dr. Salil Bhargava, a specialist in respiratory diseases in Indore, says that the effect of air pollution on young children is more than that of adults. They point out that air pollution, which includes dust and smoke or gases, is more severe on young children as their respiratory systems are developing.
According to Dr. Bhargava, the victims of air pollution are more children who live in polluted areas ie in densely populated areas, on the side of busy roads or in areas where more construction work is going on or in factory areas.
Explaining the effects of air pollution in young children, he says that air pollution in young children can cause asthma, pneumonia or frequent colds and coughs. They say that air pollution can also be dangerous for the growth of children and make them look younger than their age. According to Dr. Bhargava, frequent runny nose in children is a symptom of pneumonia which affects their growth. Apart from this, the risk of TB in children also increases due to air pollution.
Most doctors in Indore now consider air pollution to be serious, but despite this, there is no specific information about the effects of air pollution on children in the city’s hospitals.
Explaining the reason for this, Dr. Bhargava says that most of the children have cold and cough, for the treatment of which they go to the general doctor and if the children do not develop, the parents do not consider air pollution as the reason and they also take it for granted. Are.
According to Dr. Bhargava, the problem of cold and cough occurs four to five times in children, but this problem persists continuously in children living in areas with high pollution. They say that till now no research has been done about this in Indore, but for some time now all the doctors are seeing that such health problems are continuously increasing in children and now doctors are raising this issue in their groups. .
It is not that only children who are most exposed to it are getting affected due to air pollution. Women living in this Rajwada area of Indore also complain about this problem. Reena, who sets up a fruit shop here everyday from morning to night, sits here for about 12 hours a day. She tells that she is allergic to dust. Eyes burn, head hurts.
Every day for 12-12 hours from morning to evening, these women selling fruits and vegetables on the roadside have to pass in the midst of dust and smoke. Photo – Manish Kumar
Another woman selling fruits says that she often starts feeling breathless and gets cold and cough due to the smoke. A woman sitting in the same queue tells that she is troubled by dust and smoke and falls ill several times a month and falls ill six to seven times a month and a large part of her monthly income is spent on doctors and medicines.
There is no place for filth in Indore, the cleanest city of the country. The streets of the city are constantly cleaned. The people here take pride in the cleanliness of their city. They say that everyone has worked together for this.
These days, when the roads of the city are being cleaned in the morning in this sunny winter, at that time clouds of dust are flying in the air. People have no way to stop this flying dust. A woman worker sweeping the streets of the city says that smelling the dust is a compulsion as it is always difficult to work wearing a mask. She says that we should also put on a mask but for other people this is the air to breathe.
Everyone is troubled by air pollution but still most people do not take it seriously. However, due to their effect, he himself seems troubled. According to a recent report by the Union Environment Ministry, Indore is among the 37 cities in the country where air quality has declined in the five years between 2017 and 2021. Obviously, its impact on people’s health cannot be denied. To make the air pure in Indore and its nearby industrial areas, the U.S. According to various studies conducted under the Clean Air Catalyst Project, which is being run in collaboration with the Agency for International Development, Indore’s air also needs to be cleaned like its streets, so that the citizens here can stay healthy.
Kaushik Raj Hazarika, Project Manager, Environmental Defense Fund and Head of the Clean Air Catalyst Program in India, says, “The Indore administration has achieved remarkable success in waste disposal in the city with the cooperation of citizens and sanitation workers. Now there is a need to make the citizens of the city aware about air pollution and the ill effects of pollutants on health. Hazarika explains that Clean Air Catalyst has made efforts with the Indore Municipal Corporation to raise awareness about the dangers of air pollution through various workshops and such efforts will continue for those who are at higher risk.
(This story has been produced in collaboration with Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.)
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