‘NEW DELHI, India, Jan. 8, Delhi’s air is not fit to breathe, its water is not fit to drink and its civic amenities are nearing breakdown, according to ecologist Ashiah Kothari, who heads an Indian Environmental Action Group.

The Indian capital has grown from half a million people 40 years ago to 7 1/2 million today, overwhelming surrounding forests and polluting the nearby Yamuna River, he said in a public lecture reported by Indian newspapers on Friday.

The Yamuna contains 75 disease causing bacteria per milliliter as it enters Delhi and 240,000 per. Mille liter when it leaves it, he said. The Indian safety standard is 50,

The safe level of suspended particles in air is 150 milligrams per cubic meter, but Delhi’s average is around 300, Kothari said. The winter evening level around Chandni Chowk in the crowded old city is nearly 800, he added.

The Central Pollution Control Board has said half the city’s 5,000 municipal buses were spewing out too many fumes and should be pulled off the roads immediately.

“I find it absolutely amazing that Delhites do not feel like protesting at all about this state of affairs”, said Kothari.

With its former green belts destroyed and ever more people pouring in, he said, “you now have a city of whose population has no access to….. water and’ where all civic amenities are nearing a state of breakdown”.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 15, 1988