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VOA Asia Weekly: New Delhi's Pollution Migrants

VOA Asia Weekly: New Delhi's Pollution Migrants
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Taiwan-China tensions flare up near Kinmen islands. More than two dozen dead in Papua New Guinea tribal violence. Nearly three-quarters of South Korean trainee doctors walk off the job. Big milestone in Singapore for China's passenger airplane industry.

New Delhi’s severe air pollution prompts some to leave India’s capital city.

Welcome to VOA Asia Weekly. I'm Chris Casquejo in Washington. That story is just ahead, but first, making headlines:

China increased patrols near Taiwan’s Kinmen islands after two fishermen drowned while being chased by the Taiwanese coast guard. Taiwan officials claim the boat trespassed into a restricted area. China disputes this, condemning Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party for the deaths. Beijing is also denying the existence of ‘restricted waters.

Taiwan protested the Chinese coast guard’s boarding of a tourist boat, causing panic around the Kinmen islands. The Chinese crew boarded the King Xia, carrying 11 crew and 23 passengers, on Monday for about 32 minutes. Taiwan’s Coast Guard escorted the boat back to Kinmen, and the voyage resumed.

Papua New Guinea will give the military the power to arrest after 26 combatants died in tribal violence on Sunday. Villagers and bystanders were also caught in the crossfire. The death toll was initially 53, but security forces revised the number to 26. Prime Minister James Marape condemned the attack, urging the warring tribes to disarm.

More than 74 percent of South Korea’s trainee doctors have submitted their resignations this week due to a government plan to increase the number of medical students. As of Wednesday, more than 9,200 trainee doctors had submitted their resignations and about 8,000 had left their work sites, a Health Ministry official told reporters. The government ordered striking doctors to return to work. Penalties include up to three years in prison, a 30 million won or $22,000 US fine, and the revocation of medical licenses.

A protester died on Wednesday as Indian farmers resumed their march to the capital, rejecting the government’s five-year contract proposal for guaranteed prices on select crops. Despite the offer, protest leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal said farmers are demanding guaranteed prices for all their crops.

Severe air pollution in India’s capital city, which has failed to improve despite efforts, is prompting a small but growing number of people to leave New Delhi to escape the health hazards posed by dirty air. Many are relocating to the western coastal city of Goa, which has witnessed an influx of so-called pollution migrants. VOA’s Anjana Pasricha has more.

Prashant Kalra relocated from Delhi to the western coastal city Goa five years ago because the city’s dirty air was making his then three-year-old daughter sick.

“Our daughter could not breathe in Delhi NCR……. because she needed a nebulizer every night just to go to sleep.”

NCR refers to Delhi and surrounding districts. Kalra is among a small but growing number of people quitting that urban sprawl as two-decade long efforts fail to clean up the toxic smog that shrouds it every winter.

Most are heading to Goa, a popular holiday destination that has become a magnet for so-called “pollution migrants” from Delhi.

For this couple, the trigger for moving two years ago was their daughter’s persistent cough.

“She got put on a inhaler and also the nebulizer. That is when I realized it is the air.”

Delhi’s pollution is caused by a mix of construction dust, vehicular emissions and burning of crop residue. Doctors say every winter brings a steady stream of patients affected by the air quality.

“exposure longtime to high pollutants obviously affects everybody’s health.”

The numbers leaving Delhi have accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave the flexibility to work from different locations.

“When I moved to Goa, I did not know anybody else. Now in a span of two years, I know probably 20 people who moved here for the same reason.”

Moving out of Delhi is a choice available only to a few. But the trend underscores that cleaning up India’s mega cities will be one of the country’s biggest challenges as the government sets an ambitious goal of making India a developed nation by 2047.

Anjana Pasricha, VOA News, New Delhi.

Visit for the most up-to-date stories.

I’m Chris Casquejo.

Finally, a big milestone for China’s passenger airplane aspirations.

The Singapore Airshow kicked off on Tuesday with aerial displays featuring China’s COMAC C919. COMAC aims for the C919 to rival Europe’s Airbus A320 and the

Boeing 737 MAX. It’s the first time Singapore has opened the event to the public since 2020 due to the worldwide COVID pandemic.

Thanks for watching VOA Asia Weekly.