Kejriwal to Modi: Take Steps to Control New Covid Variant

Photo: Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi
Photo: Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister, Delhi

Although Kejriwal has asked Modi to stop flights from Omicron-affected regions, he should first take visible action to stop pollution in Delhi.

By Rakesh Raman

The chief minister (CM) of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal has raised concern over the expected entry of new coronavirus variant Omicron in India. Kejriwal has urged the prime minister (PM) of India Narendra Modi to stop flights from the regions where Omicron is spreading.

In a tweeted letter released today (November 28), Kejriwal told Modi, “We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern, recently recognised by WHO, from entering India.” He added that any delay in this regard may be harmful.

As Kejriwal – like Modi – is a cunning politician, he has tried to safeguard his own position by writing a casual letter to Modi. If Omicron causes any mayhem in Delhi, Kejriwal will blame Modi with the excuse that he had warned Modi beforehand.

Actually, both Modi and Kejriwal are equally careless and because of their carelessness coronavirus (Covid-19) has been rapidly killing people in Delhi and other parts of India. Now, WHO and other global health agencies believe that the Omicron variant will soon cause more damage in different parts of the world. But the government in India has not taken any concrete steps to contain the contagion.

CORONAVIRUS AND POLLUTION IN DELHI

Multiple research reports suggest that the lethality of coronavirus increases manifold with air pollution. But Kejriwal is not taking any steps to control pollution and Delhi continues to be the most polluted national capital in the world.

A new report by researchers from Imperial College London, commissioned by the Mayor Sadiq Khan, has found a  link between a person’s exposure to air pollution and the severity with which they will experience the effects of Covid-19.   

There is growing evidence linking exposure to air pollution with the worst effects of Covid-19 and this new review  led by  Imperial’s Environmental Research Group and commissioned through Imperial Projects, provides a comprehensive overview of  the best  recent  evidence and shows some indication that past exposure to toxic air leads to more severe cases of Covid-19.

Another study reveals a correlation between exposure to air pollution and Covid-19 mortality. It says that a small increase in long-term exposure to PM2.5 leads to a large increase in coronavirus (Covid-19) death rate, with the magnitude of increase 20 times than that observed for PM2.5 and all-cause mortality.

The study – done by the researchers of the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA – underscores the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the Covid-19 crisis.

The study found that an increase of only 1 μg/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. It adds that the majority of the pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of death for Covid-19 are the same diseases that are affected by long-term exposure to air pollution.

Since the Indian Government, Delhi Government, and pollution-control agencies such as Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), and National Green Tribunal (NGT) are full of corrupt and ignorant officials, they are not taking proper steps to save people’s lives from increasing pollution – and thus Covid-19 and new variants – in Delhi.

Although Kejriwal has asked Modi to stop flights from Omicron-affected regions, he should first take visible action to stop pollution in Delhi.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also runs Green Group of Delhi.

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