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   Everybody talks of air pollution in Delhi... (October 30, 1996)

Everybody talks of air pollution in Delhi and the latest to do so are the Australian cricketers, who are considering refusing to play in the capital in future. I wall not take congnisance of the Australians, they are bad losers, and, since they are losing, they are bound to complain.

However, the fact remains that people do say that Delhi is among the most polluted (air pollution) cities in the country. Which is difficult to understand. Because Delhi is more green than Banglore, and has more parks and parklands than all the other cities put together. And they are real parks, like the royal parks in London, not out PDP on Neapean Sea Road, where, if you walk a little vigorously, duust rises from under the feet.

Delhi also has wide roads, with trees on both sides, and when the roads pass along the Ridge, there is nothing but jungle along one side. And the city does not have half the traffic that Mumbai has. Most of the time you find the roads empty, with a single auto-rickshaw chugging by.

The houses also are like bugalows than buildings, and about the only light high-rise are the hotels.

In all seasons, Delhi is in full bloom with flowers and fresh leaves on trees, and gardeners are constantly cutting grass and pruning hedges at the Boat Club and other places.

True, there are a few congested areas, Cannaught Place for instance, but which city in the world does not have them. And even Connaught Place has its garden and a green mound and, surprisingly, a few palm trees.

Old Delhi, of course, is a mess, like any North Indian city, but then Old Delhi is a separate entity and should be treated as such. It has also been used as dumping ground for New Delhi, since Sanjay Gandhi's times. The beggars, for instance, have been relocated there. You will not find a single beggar in New Delhi, except those selling the evening papers.

Compared to Calcutta and Mumbai, I find Delhi to be a lot cleaner, the air fresher. And the other cities cannot even be compared. Agra is a stink hole, even the environments of the Taj Mahal. You would think they would think they would at least spruce up that area. And Varanasi is another city unfit to live in, what it requires is a good and efficient municipality. To say that it cannot be kept clean because it is a pilgrim city is illogical.

Even Indian hill-stations are not particularly clean. Darjeeling, if you descend to the local quarters, is fifthy, and try and visit the bazar in Gangtok. It is like out grand Road bazar, which must be the dirtiest bazar in the world.

I am not a champion of Delhi as a rule. But I have to be fair. I think it is more dead that polluted.

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