Some desperate solutions that can be considered for Delhi-NCR's pollution

The Central Pollution (pronunced ‘Plooshun’) Control Board (CPCB) was in a tizz. And the cause of its tizziness was to find a new word for ‘Severe,’ which sounds more severe than ‘Severe’. So far, the daily report on the air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) had employed categories such as ‘Poor’, ‘Very Poor’, and ‘Severe’ to denote levels of atmospheric pollution caused by suspended particulate matter (SPM).

The problem was that when the CPCB’s daily report showed that the air quality had become ‘Very Poor’ from the previous days ‘Severe’, this improvement gave rise to public celebrations, which involved the bursting of festive firecrackers and large-scale family outings, involving the use of automotive transport, to India Gate and other popular venues, which resulted in the level of plooshun not just rising to the ‘Severe’ level but surpassing it. What was needed was an entirely new set of words, a new vocabulary, to define the levels of plooshun.

Approaching this daunting task in the manner of linguists who deciphered the Harappan script, the CPCB team consulted the office copy of the ABC Dictionary of Everyday Usage and searched for suitable words beginning with the letter A that sounded more severe than ‘Severe’.

And – eureka! – CPCB struck gold. It found a whole host of words beginning with A that sounded more alarming than ‘Severe’, ‘Alarming’ itself being one of them. After ‘Alarming’, there was ‘Appalling’, and after that ‘Atrocious’.

And if the CPCB ran out of As, it could always fall back on the Bs, starting with ‘Beastly’, going on to ‘Brutal,’ and right up to ‘Buggered’. And after the Bs there were the Cs, beginning with ‘Catastrophic’.

But CPCB’s joy was short-lived. What happened if it ran out of the letters of the alphabet to find words suitably scary to describe the ever-increasing levels of plooshun? What descriptive tag could it find after ‘Zonked’? In a solemn funerary rite, the ABC Dictionary of Everyday Usage was ceremoniously incinerated, the smoke from the pyre, raising the plooshun level from ‘Severe’ to ‘Strangulation’.

In the meantime, at an emergency meeting held to deal with the crisis, the Action Committee to Prevent Asphyxia (ACPA) rolled out a slew of measures to safeguard public health. It was recommended that not only should all educational institutions be physically shut, but that all online classes also be indefinitely suspended, as such forms of instruction necessarily involved the use of computers, which consumed electricity generated by carbon-emitting thermal power plants.

For similar reasons, WFH (work from home) rules for all public and private sector employees should be modified to WFFH (work far from home) – i.e. Relocate to another state, the farther away the better.

APCA also urged that the odd-even system for vehicles based on the last numeral on number plates be amended. Henceforth, only those vehicles the numeric value of the number plates of which when divided by pi to the fifth decimal place – 3.14159 – on every alternate Tuesday worked out to be less than Planck’s Constant should be allowed to operate. As no one, starting with the ACPA member who suggested the scheme, could make head, tail, or in between, of what it meant (if anything at all) the plan would, in effect, bring all vehicular movement to a total standstill.

In another development, the Management of Annual Disasters (MAD) solved the problem of stubble-burning by farmers using simple logic. What in the first place, caused the stubble that had to be burnt? Answer: Crops. No crops, no stubble. No stubble, no stubble-burning. When asked what people would eat in the absence of crops, MAD responded that at times of hardship everyone had to tighten their belts, figuratively and literally.

In an unrelated development, yoga guru and healthcare salesman Baba Wham Deh proclaimed that the problem was not plooshun. The problem was the human propensity to breathe. No breathing, no plooshun.

As most people were not yogis who could hold their breath indefinitely, the Baba had patented a special tonic that would render breathing superfluous. The tonic, Catatonic, became available at all leading outlets.


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