Campaign #MyRightToBreathe aims to create a safer, pollution free, clean air for all, especially children
New Delhi, October 11, 2017, New Delhi: The critical levels of air pollution in Delhi galvanized some prominent environmentally-conscious citizens and social influencers to come together today and call for celebrating a “Smoke free Green Diwali”. As part of the campaign, #myrighttobreathe, they urged the Government and the public to take necessary steps to create a pollution free environment and clean air for our children, senior citizens and the next generation. The Right to Breathe Clean Air is a recognized right under our constitution. The event was held today in New Delhi and the discussions included leading pulmonolgists and well-known personalities who spoke about the dangerous levels of pollution in cities today, especially around festivals and the need for traditional, fun and safe ways to celebrate them. Popular public figures like Virat kohli, Kapil Dev, Rohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra,Virender Sehwag, Rannvijay Singha, Nina Gupta and Arjun Nagpal have also voiced their support towards saying no to crackers by sharing videos and pledges on their social media accounts to urge people to spread awareness and take action. RWAs and NGOs are also coming together to sensitize and encourage people for the same.
Each year, the seasonal festivities make the air in and around Delhi and surrounding areas thick with smog and suspended particulate matter leading to residents and children feeling breathless and vulnerable to asthmatic attacks. In view of the rising pollution levels at this time each year, and to assess the impact on the air quality, the Supreme Court on Monday, 9 October issued a ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1, 2017. The court observed that, “the air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby, leading to closure of schools in view of the health emergency situation”. Crackers are made up of highly toxic heavy metals such as copper, cadmium, lead, manganese, zinc, sodium and potassium. These metals, if present in the air, can trigger an asthma attack causing severe headache and respiratory problems apart from chronic cough.
At the event, key speakers included Shumsher K Sheriff, Former Secretary General, Rajya Sabha; Dr Anupam Sibal, Senior Pediatrician, Apollo Hospital; Kapil Dev, former cricketer; Dr Arvind Kumar, Chief Thoracic Surgeon, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital; Dr Siddharth Sahni, Breast Surgeon, Apollo Hospital; Dr Neeraj Jain, Senior Pulmonologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Dr Harsh Mahajan, Founder and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, who advocated for this cause by reiterating the severe health-related consequences of cracker-bursting, hard hitting facts and simple steps that can be taken by all of us to observe a smoke free, cracker free and fun Diwali. The speakers urged the public to revive traditional practices such as planting saplings, lighting earthen lamps, creating rangolis with eco-friendly colours, using traditional oil diyas and wax candles instead of electrical lighting as a first step towards combatting the dangerous levels of air pollution in Delhi by celebrating a Green Diwali. Mr Gopal Shankaranarayanan, Advocate and one of the panelists, spoke about the comprehensive 12 point petition filed in the apex court, the need for better fuel norms among other issues and advocating with the Government for introducing electric buses as a cleaner mode of transport for the city.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which monitors daily pollution found the Air Quality Index (AQI) to be 190 (moderate level) till 3 Oct, following which it rose to 219 (poor level) on 4 Oct. The Air Quality Index grades air on the basis of pollutants such as PM 2.5 and PM 10, categorizing it as Good (0-50), Satisfactory (51-100), Moderate (101-200), Poor (201-300), Very Poor (301-400) and Severe (>401). However despite this, no standards or limits have been laid down by CPCB on the permissible levels of chemicals/toxins which can be released into air by crackers, as observed by the apex court as well.
#MyRightToBreathe is a Citizen’s group in Delhi working for citizen participation and awareness for a ‘Pollution Ka Solution.’ As concerned citizens, we urge the public to make the first move to help Delhi get back clean air. When air pollution reached critical levels last year in Delhi and citizens, especially children, were left breathless, our group took to the streets to raise awareness and demand emergency measures from our Government. The solutions lie in responsible civil actions from employers, administrators, corporations, medical community and the larger public. We seek support from all those who can make a difference and make Delhi stand proud again as the capital of our great country.