Nilesh Vohra

My name is Nilesh Vohra. I’m twelve years old and my doctor says I have a dust allergy. I have had breathing problems since I was a young child. Many of my friends also have some problems breathing. There is a lot of dust here and also other dirty things in the air. It is bad for us to live in such dirty conditions. This week, some people came to our neighbourhood and sprayed a lot of mosquito disinfectant. I tried to hold my breath when the men came but I couldn’t for long enough! So I breathed some of that in and it made me cough.

Sometimes I also cough when my mum is cooking. She uses the gas for cooking sabzi, but the coal (chulha) for making rotis (flat bread). It’s the only way to make good roti! There is some smoke but it goes up the chimney, but when mum cooks spicy food we cough a lot because of the chilli in the air.

The smell from the drains comes directly into our house. It comes from a drain that passes right through the camp. The smell is so bad in summer. That is why the mosquito spray men come sometimes. The flies and mosquitos can live in the drains. Over the winter, the mud bricks of our house break down – the water in the mud freezes and melts and refreezes – and dust comes in as the mud walls crumble. The wind blows the dust from our neighbour’s broken walls in too.

Sometimes I walk with my mother to the market. It takes 20 minutes. There is one big road in front of the market. It takes us more than five minutes to cross when the cars are moving fast. In the morning it is better, because the traffic makes the cars very slow. My mother is nervous crossing the road. A friend was killed crossing it one day.

I think [drivers and pedestrians] should be equal, there should be equal space for people walking and driving. They should make more bridges for people to cross the road. Although there are some bridges, we don’t use them as it is too far. But I think drivers will always be more important. They have money to buy a car and the government men have cars.

In 20 years, there won’t be anyone walking in Delhi. There will only be cars. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) doesn’t cause pollution so that is a very good solution. The buses in Delhi are CNG so this is very good. Electric cars don’t have any smoke from them too. I saw one two days ago. But the government needs to improve the buses. They are very crowded and ugly.

My mother is in the hospital right now. She has lung cancer.