The Sri Lankan players may have opted to let “bygones be bygone”, though their parent body has drawn the attention of the ICC to the foul air that caused more than a disrupting hiccup during the Test match in Delhi. Without seeking to revisit an unpleasant episode, it must be noted it would be churlish of the Capital’s sporting devotees to endorse the line taken by the Indian “camp” that their opponents had raised an exaggerated fuss, and were short of sporting spirit. Kotla Ferozshah will mark a dubious entry into cricket’s chronicles as the first venue where “Smog Stopped Play”. And that could translate into the city being overlooked as a venue for major events during the traditional winter “season”.
Let it not be forgotten it was pollution that dictated none of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup Matches were slotted for the Capital after Diwali. Or, that last season two Ranji Trophy games were re-scheduled for similar factors. Yet re-drawing sports programmes is a poor “solution” ~ the failure to clean up the air in the Delhi region has caused one envoy to temporarily re-locate, and trigger moves by sections of the diplomatic community to have New Delhi listed as a “hardship posting” because of poor air-quality.
Fingers will have to remain crossed lest some dignitaries decline invitations for the Republic Day parade ~ it will be a murky “showcase” through which the nation will attempt to display its prowess. Sadly, it is taking “foreign” reaction to highlight what the local populace has been long suffering ~ will that make any real difference?
What has been exposed by recent “developments” is that judicial action has failed to remedy the situation. The National Green Tribunal, and to an extent even the Supreme Court, have flayed the gross incompetence of both the Central and Delhi governments but neither have gone beyond a blame-game, and the authorities in the other states adjoining the National Capital Region have made only token efforts at pollution control.
Hopefully after its pet-priority ~ assembly elections ~ are out of the way the government at the Centre will shed its indifference to the crisis. Both the ministers handling environment and urban development have bases in Delhi, their lethargy/incompetence bolsters the charge that nothing works on Raisina Hill unless the Prime Minister leads the way.
While it is true that the NCR is paying the price for long years of neglect before NDA-II came to power, the present government has little to show for its action on the pollution front. “Clean Air For Delhi” was not an election promise, so no political gains may accrue from lambasting the unmitigated failure. Yet can the people of Delhi be expected to believe that achhe din can dawn as long as they are condemned to live in gas chambers straddling a “dead” river?