Message from Rumi Darwaza echoes citizens’ demand for clean air
On 22nd November 2017, CEED, in collaboration with several civil societies carried out an outreach activity at the iconic Rumi Darwaza in Lucknow to raise awareness on public health crisis due to the alarming air pollution levels in the city and state. This citizen-centric initiative was part of CEED’s ongoing ‘100% Uttar Pradesh’ campaign that envisages a holistic perspective of creating a sustainable environment and urge the state government to formulate a Clean Air Action Plan on an urgent basis, which includes effective, practical and indigenous solutions to address the rising air pollution levels in both Lucknow and Uttar Pradesh.
As per the air quality data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Lucknow’s air was most polluted among all cities on 14th November, 2017; and the air quality index was under ‘Severe’ category, even above Delhi’s. The finer particulate matter (PM2.5) concentration in Lucknow was 7 times higher than the safety level of 60 µg/m3, which can be attributed to high vehicular emission as well as trans-boundary movement of air pollutants from stubble burning in western parts of the country. Lucknow’s air has dangerous levels of PM2.5 concentration that can aggravate respiratory and lung diseases like eye and throat irritation, asthma, bronchitis, hyper-tension and breathlessness for existing patients, while inflict such diseases to the healthy ones as well. Long-term exposure to such finer particulate matter can also cause lung cancer.
Asserting on the need to take immediate action to curb pollution levels in the city and state, Mr. Munna Jha, Head of Political Advocacy at CEED said, “It’s not Delhi alone, the whole of Gangetic plain’s air is now polluted and filled with toxic gases and finer particles hazardous to human health. We cannot afford to live in denial anymore. Air pollution is the key factor for 20% mortality in the country. It is imperative for us to join hands and work collectively towards mitigating air pollution levels in all possible ways we can.” Shedding light on the ‘100% Uttar Pradesh’ campaign, Mr. Jha further added that “As part of the citizen initiative, the campaign is supported by a large number of people from all walks of life that have demanded the formulation of a Clean Air Action Plan with time bound enforcement. Through this citizen initiative, we also aim to educate the masses about the ill-effects of air pollution. The 100% UP campaign aspires to provide a platform to kickstart more such initiatives in the future to mitigate the alarming levels of air pollution.”
Lending his support to the initiative, Mr. Ajay Sharma, Secretary, AMALTAS said, “CEED has been playing a lead role in bringing the issue of air pollution to the forefront by ensuring mass participation. Through today’s activity, we wish to send out a clear message to the government to take steps in order to reduce the rising levels of air pollution in our city. Considering the unprecedented rise in the levels of air pollution, we must act now to stop Lucknow from turning into a gas chamber. We urge the government to address this grave environmental concern by taking emergency response, as well as to issue health advisories to urgently bring the situation under control.”
The Clean Air Action Plan, like any other enforcement framework should have a set of action priorities as per the emission source, recognised regulations, and management measures for the mitigation of air pollution; along with institutional arrangement. Further, the action plan is also essential to improve real time data monitoring; which is why it must also include a source apportionment study to make emission profile for each polluting sector. The formulation of a well-defined Clean Air Action Plan will help assure an effective and long-term reduction in the levels of air pollution. The need of the hour of the hour is to urgently adopt remedial measures to improve the city’s air.