Pollution Diaries

Pollution Diaries is a collaborative writing project – an online platform for sharing everyday life experience from one of the world’s most polluted cities. The contributors are students of the Czech language at the University of Delhi.


One of my friends shared the photo of this locality. People go out saying “Let’s have some fresh air.”
Shweta Kapoor, 8. 4. 2020, Rohini Sector 1


Birds are chirping around; beautiful sunset, no honking cars.
Shweta Kapoor, 8. 4. 2020, Rohini Sector 8


In lockdown, there is silence everywhere. Whenever I look at the sky, I can see only bluish layers and white clouds flowing there like cotton. Children enjoy the evenings flying kites on the tops of roofs.
Risabh Jain, 2. 4. 2020, Delhi Floor Mill, Roshanara Road


Now, when there is peace everywhere, the sky is more blue day by day. I can clearly hear birds chirping. It is wonderful.
Himanshi Sharma, 2. 4. 2020, Karol Bagh


This is a view from my terrace today… After so many years, we saw such a beautiful sky. My mother told me that the weather used to be like this when she was around thirteen. It is raining frequently so the temperature doesn’t rise up. The blue sky brings me the feeling which I know from watching foreign movies, because there is always clear sky…
Pragya Singh, 31. 3. 2020, Burari


Only medical and grocery shops are open, but the vegetable market was crowded and grocery shops have a large amount of customers after the announcement of the 21 days long lockdown. People are afraid of the shortage of food supply and shopkeepers are increasing prices. Because of fear, people are paying more without a second thought. Since the 22nd of March, the quality of air has changed drastically due to reduced traffic. Petrol pumps are open, but very few people go there.
Gaurav Thakur, 24. 3. 2020, Ghaziabad


It started to get really spooky here – all embassies are flying their citizens back home…  I went today to the Department to see if I can get in as I left my room in the middle of the work. I have no working desk at home and used the desk in my room, but everything is entirely shut down – even the guards have no keys – only this small dog could manage to get in… spooky, really very spooky…
Biliana Parvanova, 23. 3. 2020, Department of Slavonic and Finno-Ugrian Studies, University of Delhi, North Campus


Delhi riots just a few days ago. The riots begun between protesters against CAA and NRC and those who support it. People barricaded roads and set cars, buses and shops on fire. People begun to shoot on streets. I locked myself at home with my family. The temples and mosques were also set on fire. I got stuck in my house for three days and my father could not come home, he had to stay in the office.
Bhupendra Kumar, 6. 3. 2020, Gokal Puri


This is the “Contactless revolution”, the train of the Indian railways. Even after buying the ticket, passengers can nor find the place to sit.
Bhupendra Kumar, 29. 2. 2020


This is a picture of the opposite side of the road, just a few steps away. As it is a barren land, people do not think twice before throwing anything out there. It doesn’t stink yet but I think that it will look exactly like the opposite side of the road soon.
Pragya Singh, 28. 2. 2020, Burari


This is an open sewer near my house. People come here to empty their dustbins into water as if it was perfectly normal to do that. But it stinks a lot and the sewer isn’t protected with any boundary. When it fills up, the liquid from the sewer mixed with thrash spills on the road and makes it slippery. When it is raining, locals can not cross the road. They have to go different way to reach their homes.
Pragya Singh, 28. 2. 2020, Burari


This is the outher road of Bhalaswa Dairy. Everyday, I see the animals looking for something to eat in heaps of garbage. Most of them swallow poly bags because they smell something edible inside or eat other harmful stuff. Theit owners milk them but do not feed them enough. There is a colony across the road and its residents slowly change this site into a dumping ground.
Pragya Singh, 24. 2. 2020, Burari


In this picture, you can see the animals looking for something to eat. There is a large lake beside the garbage, but the quality of water is very poor, there is no single fish there… Its size gradually decreases as people throw waste and cow dung in water. Ten years ago, I used to go there to play in the park and paddle boat. But as population has risen so has the pollution.
Pragya Singh, 24. 2. 2020, Burari


In the South Delhi neighbourhood of Kalkaji, there is a busy intersection without traffic lights. There is a perpetual traffic jam in this extremely crowded area. As everyone wants to be the first one to cross the road, the honking never stops.
Perry Zutshi, 23. 2. 2020, Kalkaji


This is a picture of the sewer system. As you can see, it is filled up with poly bags and other thrash. A local lady told me, that people throw their garbage out there and dirty water from the whole locality is drained there too. Her children can not go out to play because of waste. The government doesn’t provide any MCD vehicle to collect the garbage. Even in my locality, we have to appoint a private garbage collector.
Pragya Singh, 18. 2. 2020, Burari


These pictures are from a government school playground. I have to go that way to catch my bus whenever I am getting late to my university classes, but it’s difficult since I have to breathe the smell of the garbage. Residents told me that the government doesn’t provide garbage containers and garbage trucks come very rarely.
Manish Gupta, 18. 2. 2020, Shiv Mandir Tri Nagar, Shakurpur


When I was passing this street, I clearly saw the dust particles in its light. People who live there told me they cough very often and black dirt comes out whenever they blow their noses.
Man Mohan, Mehrauli, 1. 11. 2019


I was in Kalindi Kunj for festival, we have to go near the Yamuna river. There was a lot of foam floating in water. People said that there is usually foam created by chemicals in the river when water is released from a dam.
Pryianshi Gupta, Kalindi Kunj, 3. 11. 2019


The situation is becoming unmanageable. Wind is bringing a massive blanket of smog, reports say that the rapid increasement of pollution happened because farmers are burning stubbles in neighbouring states. I saw children coughing and the number of patients in hospitals is raising as well.
Sumanshu Rao, Badli Railway metro station, 2. 11. 2019


Today, a man with the smoke machine came to repel mosquitoes and other insects. It works, but it is very difficult to breathe due to the smoke.
Pryianshi Gupta, Moujpur, 1. 11. 2019


It is a week since I have seen the sky. There is a constant itching in my throat. Landscape horizon disappeared due to smog blurring all sharp edges like da Vinci’s sfumato. I can recall one Diwali in my childhood 20 years ago. I also fired crackers after ‘Laxmi puja’ . It burnt me few times, yeah. As I grew up I stopped doing that since I understood its environmental impact. Unfortunately, the majority of Indian population has not. Burning crackers is a symbol of a social status.
Gaurav Thakur, 1. 11. 2019


Earlier, we used to sit in the campus park, but it is impossible now. People like me, who are allergic to dust, face a lot of discomfort. My eyes became extremely itchy.
Abishek Stephen, University of Delhi, North Campus, 31. 19. 2019


Another day and another toxic photo. Poor visibility, bad air. Gas chamber.
Sumanshu Rao, Badli Railway metro station, 31. 10. 2019


Pollution mask. Let’s see if it can help against the toxic air in the city. Even the Delhi government is providing breathing masks for free, they are going to distribute around 50 lakhs of them to students in public and private schools from the 1st of November.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 31. 10. 2019


Right now, at Kashmiri metro station. It is so dusty that everything became blurry and I feel suffocated.
Pryianshi Gupta, Kashmiri Gate metro station, 31. 10. 2019


Post Diwali photo. Air pollution irritates my eyes and causes breathing problems. The visibility is poor. Delhi turned into a gas chamber. Firecrackers were banned but people still find a way to buy them. I think there were not as many firecrackers burnt as one year ago but the quality of air is still terrible.
Sumanshu Rao, Badli metro station, 30. 10. 2010


People burn the trash in a public place near my house. After a while I feel very bad smell and start to have breathing problems caused by the clouds of black smoke.
Vishal Sen, Burari, Sant Nagar, 14. 1. 2019


I was travelling from Uttarakhand back to Delhi. There are plenty of sugar mills on the way, this is one of them. The smoke coming constantly out of mills makes breathing difficult and smells very bad.
Pryianshi Gupta, railway Uttarakhand – Delhi, 8. 9. 2019


I am happy to see clear sky. I’ve never noticed that Delhi can be so beautiful when there is not so much smog in the air.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 26. 9. 2019


Today, the air was clear and the visibility was also good, but it was very hot, which is unusual in the last week of September. We have never experienced such weather, I got the flu.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 25. 9. 2019


Buses in Delhi are fully crowded everyday. Being pushed by sweating people is upsetting.
Bhupendra Kumar, Gokal Puri, 17. 9. 2019


It is annoying to have to clean my glasses every few minutes. You can’t see the dust with the naked eye, but it is there everytime. To see through the dust – a superhuman skill.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 20. 9. 2019


Today evening, there was a dust storm when I was going home. Dust irritated my throat and eyes.
Bhupendra Kumar, Gokal Puri, 25. 9. 2019


I saw sparrows today after a long time. They were drinking water and eating. Some of them flew away as I tried to take a picture. There were so many of them. I miss their chirping.
Sumanshu Rao, Badli Railway Station, 1. 10. 2019


There is this 62 meters high mountain of garbage on my way home. Whenever a wind blows, it spreads an awful smell.
Param Dharam Singh, Bhalswa landfill, 2. 10. 2019


This gentleman comes on his bicycle to sell lemons, ginger, garlic, coriander and mint. My family always offers him water, since he is totally exhausted because of heat.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 4. 8. 2019


I heard the customer asking this pineapple seller why he doesn’t come to their locality anymore. He told him he is too old to bear the heat.
Sumanshu Rao, Paharganj, 4.8. 2019


Dust particles damaged my computer several times. I used to cover my desktop but dust found its way to the motherboard. And the first words I hear everyday are: it’s not a good morning, it’s dusty.
Sumanshu Rao, Siraspur, 22. 6. 2019


I saved this bird from ditch. In 90’s, a lot of bird species lived in Delhi, but because of pollution they have disappeard from the city.
Bhupendra Kumar, Gokal Puri, 23. 6. 2019


I need to clean my plants daily because they collect a lot of dust on their leaves.
Bhupendra Kumar, Gokalpuri, Delhi, 12. 6. 2019


There is a vast barren land opposite my home. When it’s too hot, we have to splash the road with water every few hours, otherwise we feel like being roasted on burning coal.
Pragya Singh, Burari, Delhi, 14. 6. 2019


Last week, I got heatstroke because the fast change of temperature. The difference in the temperature of an air conditioned room and afternoon Delhi streets was 22 degrees Celsius. It took 2 days to recover.
Gaurav Thakur, Ghaziabad, Delhi, 6. 6. 2019


This street dog is trying to find a cold place to lie down and rest in current heat wave. I fill his bowl with water and feed him everyday, but he seems to be exhausted all the time, he doesn’t eat and play like few months ago.
Sumanshu Rao, Delhi, June 2019


People burn the garbage here and when they do it, I am choking. It is disturbing to see animals eating plastic bags in search for food.
Pragya Singh, Burari, Delhi, May 2019


Water is very dirty. During the bath my skin was itching. There is a lot of broken statues of Hindu godesses in the river.
Vishal Sen, Yamuna river, Delhi, May 2019