India, Priyanka Rampal
"We were stuck … It was a hailstorm in Delhi, India"
By Priyanka Rampal
As students, we were first taught about climate in the 7th standard and about the climate change conditions in the 9th standard along with the reasons and long-term impacts of climate change on the life present on Earth. This means that kids at age of 10 are aware how climate change is affecting their future and yet, many of the adults refuse to believe that climate change is serious or even real … you would think they know better. To make sure we are on the same page, let me first tell what climate change is in brief. It is an effect on the local temperature and weather conditions of a place or region because of the changes occurring for a long time. This means that climate change doesn’t happen overnight or even in a year. As a matter of fact, it is the change in weather conditions over a period of 30 years.
Being the capital of India and the centre of convenience, many people from around the country come to Delhi and become a part of the busy and crowded state. This has made it a multicultural home for many people. However, the impact of this can be seen on the increasing industrialization and development which made Delhi a full-packed state.
Delhi is considered to be one of the greenest metropolitan states in India and yet, it ranks as one of the top states when it comes to the most polluted states in India. The cause remains emission of dangerous greenhouse gases as well as the increasing deforestation in and around Delhi. When I was in school, we studied about the holes in the Ozone layer which cause greenhouse effect, but maybe, this is the reason why no one ever took it seriously because it is not possible for the human eye to see the ozone layer with their bare eyes.
As someone who has been born and brought up in Delhi, over the several years of time I have noticed many changes in the patterns of seasons and weather conditions in the capital. Though the ones unaware of climate change can consider it an exception or a pleasant weather at times, it is very much the impact of climate change.
In 2019 February, Delhi NCR witnessed a heavy hailstorm. For the people inside their houses, it may be an asterisking moment to see so much ice on their terraces but for the people coming home from their offices or for the people outside, it became a situation they couldn’t avoid. The flights were diverted and many were rescheduled. It was highly unexpected as February is usually the end of winters in Delhi. Leave alone hailstorms, it is often an unusual event to have rain washing the roads during the late winners in Delhi, much less snow.
Just like the other Delhiites, it was my first time that I witnessed a hailstorm which didn’t just last for over an hour but also covered a distance of about 15 km at a time. I remember calling my friends who were stuck in the subways just like I was and couldn’t even take the rickshaws or e-rickshaws as the rain and hailstorm both made it difficult to commute via those.
Few days after that evening, most of the Delhiites forgot about the incident and the pictures became memes showing how Delhi had a whitewash and how the roads looked like roads from hilly terrains covered with their first snowfall.
It was neither the first time, nor the last that Delhi has witnessed such random changes in the weather. The monsoon delays and winters striking the capital early are some of the changes which have been noticed in the past years. Still the construction, deforestation, and industrialization do not seem to step back.
In 2020, the government passed an order to cut down 1000 trees in order to build the new parliament in Delhi along with the increasing pollution in the state. Moreover, the nearby states also suffered through deforestation for construction purposes and the forest fires made it worse for the environment. Checking the air quality and having an air purifier has become a common task for the people living in Delhi including me.
Deforestation may not be the first cause of environmental changes taking place in Delhi but it is definitely a leading cause in worsening the conditions. Although it is small amounts if you look at them separately, if I look at my early age, my Delhi has changed a lot. With the changing climate and weather, I have grown to learn more about the changes in my environment through which I managed to bring some facts and some experiences for my climate story.