Right to Clean Air
Right to Clean Air
Dear political leaders,
We, the citizens of Delhi-NCR and the entire Northern India are highly concerned with rising pollution levels in the region. Air pollution is one of the biggest climate crisis our region is facing today. The basic fundamental right of citizens to clean air for a healthy human survival is under threat. It has also now crossed our levels of tolerance and patience! It is a national shame as our country is earning bad image globally for this menace.
What adds to the public anger is that our officials remain divided and are still debating on who is responsible! The politics on air has already started with state and central governments blaming one other. Do we need this right now? India is known to have the vast indigenous knowledge of living in harmony with nature and a longest historical tradition of the same. Our history including all religious scriptures and cultural practices teach us that we are one of the element of our Mother Earth and we need to give back, in order to take anything from this mother. Yet where have all these values been lost in today’s times?
In our constant aim for economic prosperity and infrastructure development, have our political leaders become uprooted from these traditional values and customs? We don't see a long term vision of sustainable development for the nation. Soon, the market will be flooded with amazing solutions to address air problem like N-95 masks, air purifiers etc. But the problem will remain and grow because we will create another alternative beast which we will realize years later. Haven't most of the innovative solutions landed us in trouble because we didn't know how to manage the problem?
Take an example of water purifier, we did not even realise when these became an integral part of our being. Clean water is our basic right but we were too lazy to demand for our rights. The houses that did not have a water purifier were looked down upon till majority of citizens got forced to convert. Do we realize how much of water gets wasted for a bucket of treated and drinkable water? No one is talking of wastage of water from these excellent A+ rated water purifiers. The same pattern is now being followed with the air purifiers. But how long will this cycle continue? Isn't clean air and water our basic fundamental right? We are aiming for the moon but failing on the earth. How is this sustainable?
Dr. Arvind Kumar, an expert chest surgeon at New Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital recently at a conference organized by University of Chicago shared that in the past six years, half of his lung cancer patients have been non-smokers, about 40 per cent of them women. Patients are younger too, with 8 per cent in their 30s and 40s. As per Dr. Kumar, this dramatic shift in the profiles of lung cancer patients is a sum total of many factors like:
a. Air fouled by dirty diesel exhaust fumes,
b. Construction dust,
c. Rising industrial emissions,
d. Degredation of forests,
e. Crop burning,
f. Burning crackers on festivals like Diwali
All of the above has created heavy loads of harmful pollutants in the air. A study published by The Lancet also confirmed that air pollution contributes substantially to premature mortality and disease burden globally, with a greater impact in low-income and middle-income countries than in high-income countries. It estimated that in 2017, air pollution killed 1.24 m Indians. Some of the most polluted cities of the world are in northern India.
Dear leaders, we all are suffering including you and I. With increased throat infection, watering of eyes, black snot and constant head-ache, the polluted air can not be ignored. One must be really living under the woods or in a complete sub-conscious state to ignore this horrible air we are breathing daily. I am sure you are aware of all the above and the data, but we don't see political commitment and willingness. For an India of 21st century, we need strong commitment, leadership and action on ground.
We request you to take urgent steps to clean the air and demand our right for clean air. Our children should not be made to suffer in the failed eco-system that is a result of human activities and industry emissions.
We request you to take urgent steps and a national clean air plan that is effective, sustainable and visionary!