Air Quality Index
Petition to Prakesh Javadekar, Babul Supriyo
Demand Action to Declare & Treat Polluted Toxic Air as Emergency
My parents are old and one of them suffers from breathing issues. They live in Delhi and so do my sisters and other relatives. A Supreme Court mandated panel declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR region on 1st Nov. 2019. It banned construction activity till 5th of November and schools were shut in Delhi, till 15th Nov 2019. I was shocked to see that though an emergency was declared all other activities went on as nothing had happened. Shops were open, people were supposed to report to work, autos/cabs ran as usual, students reported to schools in NCR - why hurt the business right? With the heightened media coverage we know that Delhi's Air Quality Index (AQI) is unhealthy to breathe all round year with few days of moderate quality of air. Unfortunately, the toxic air is not limited to Delhi. More than 10 cities in India feature in the worldwide most polluted list. At times cities like Kanpur and Varanasi has AQI worse than in Delhi. Every three minutes a child dies in India because of inhaling toxic pollutants in the air, according to an analysis of the Global Burden of Disease 2017. (Source: Down To Earth) Why deaths due to polluted toxic air not considered a disaster yet? Disasters like flood, earthquake or cyclone. Is it because the death is slow and inside the four walls of our homes or hospitals. Clean air is our right. In Delhi, public health emergency was declared under the Graded Response Action Plan for Delhi & NCR (GRAP). GRAP came in place in Delhi & NCR in response to the Supreme Court order in December 2016. It does not place safeguarding people as its focus. Also, the GRAP waters down AQI - it uses words like moderate to poor, very poor, severe, severe+ or emergency. These words do not directly relate to health. To understand, AQI (PM2.5) above 150 unhealthy, above 200 is very unhealthy and 300-500 is hazardous to health. Above 500 is not categorized by EPA. Maybe we never thought that air would go so bad but now we are living in it (Source: AQI Guide EPA). My parents, you and all of us do not need to suffer from this silently. We need to demand strong National Policy/inclusion in Disaster Management Act emergency measures to safeguard us from polluted toxic air not panels or committees. On 9th Nov. 17 in response to Delhi air pollution Environment Ministry formed a high-level committee (news reports). This year on 5th Nov, two years down the line PMO again sets panel to monitor air quality in National Capital (news reports). There are measures for flood prevention and norms for evacuation. When an area is flooded there is whole machinery dedicated with a focused plan to minimize the disaster or deaths. Same is with earthquake, cyclones, tsunami. But, when we talk about air pollution we are limited to prevention plans and not emergency action plan focused on people to safeguard lives. It is time for a national policy/inclusion in Disaster Management Act that deals with extremely polluted air as a disaster. Detailed emergency measures to safeguard our lives and health damage from the polluted and toxic air. Flood needs disaster management, so does dealing with toxic killer air. The central and state environment ministers needs to get a team of experts on an urgent basis and draft this to safeguard people from polluted air (i.e. AQI more than 50). We demand all these provisions (but not limited only to these). (1) Monitor AQI Nationwide. Make it mandatory to publish city-wise figures in newspapers and include it in weather reports across radio & local/national news channels. Install monitors all towns. (2) Regulate pollution by industries, vehicles, construction etc. to ensure AQI less than 50. (3) in cities/towns where AQI have been more than 150 for more than 19 days in a year, distribute reusable air pollution masks with N99 filter that fights PM 2.5 to people most at risk and are from the economically weaker sections including but not limited to - street dwellers, all govt school children - including KV's, vegetables/fruit vendors, auto/taxi drivers, police officers, traffic police, sanitation workers, class IV & III govt officials etc. (4) Issue warnings when AQI crosses 100. These warnings should be included as notices in schools, colleges, hospitals, banks, govt. & private offices, frequent radio broadcasts and television telecasts. (5) When AQI crosses 150, shut down all historical places/sites, museums, planetarium, zoos/botanical gardens, all tourist destinations and all other public places. (6) When AQI crosses 150, cancel all public events like marathon, walkathon, marriages, religious processions, food & music festivals and any other such events. (7) Declare Air Quality Environmental Health Emergency when AQI is more than 200 in that city or town. Treat it as a disaster. Detail plan to safeguard people. - under this close down all schools and colleges till AQI comes down below 200 - close down all government offices including banks. - give orders to shut down all pvt offices (don't just issue advisory but ensure there is no travel for work). Stepping out will cause irreversible health damage. (8) Equip staff of emergency services like fire brigade, hospitals, ambulance, police personals to work under these hazardous conditions. Provide good quality gear. Regular health check ups. (9) Stop air travel to the town or cities when AQI is more than 500.
Petition to Arvind Kejriwal, Arvind Kejriwal, CITIZENS OF DELHI, Delhi Government, Punjab government, Haryana government
Make Delhi’s Air Smog-Free Again With A Time-Tested Solution
Every year, North India gets choked by the poisonous smoke coming from nearby farms due to crop residue burning. It is high time now to solve this issue and take action to prevent this from happening this year too. Through crop residue management, we have been working to solve this issue in 25 villages of Haryana and are adding more every day.
Petition to Honourable Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel
Urgent Action Plan to tackle emissions from Diesel Generators
The National Clean Air Program (NCAP) is a comprehensive approach to reduce Air Pollution in the country, with a specific short-term target of reducing particulate matter pollution by 25-30% to be achieved by 2024. While the government has already been working on improving the monitoring infrastructure, the NCAP has brought focus on prevention, control and abatement of pollution. For the same, the NCAP also recognizes major sources of particulate matter pollution in the country. Diesel Generators (DGs) are recognized among the major sources of PM2.5 pollution in India. It is also recognized as a major polluting source by the Honourable National Green Tribunal. As per NCAP released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, DG sets contribute up to 7-18% to ambient air pollution in non-attainment cities. Also, the NCAP recommends the following measures to reduce particulate matter emissions from DGs: Retro-fitted emission control equipment with diesel generators having a minimum specified particulate matter capturing efficiency of at least 70% certified by one of the 5 labs approved by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Gas based generators either by retrofitting existing generators for partial usage of gas (a mixture of diesel and gas) or buying new gas-based generators. The retrofit emission control devices/ gas retrofits must be verified by (CPCB approved institutions which also provide emissions approval for diesel generators at manufacturers’ stage During our interaction with pollution control boards of various states, it has come to our notice that there are was a lack of focus on reducing emissions from DG sets. As recommended by the National Clean Air Program, retrofit emission control devices or gas based generators can be adopted as solutions to reduce emissions from DG sets. We believe DGs are a major source of emissions and should definitely be addressed in the action plans for all cities and states in India. As per a Times of India article dated 5th May, 2017, N.R.Raje, ex Environmental Pollution Control Authority member and an ex-Director at Indian Oil Corporation Limited, mentions that 10,000 gen-sets pollute equal to 50,000 heavy duty trucks. If thousands like you sign today, the responsible committee will realise that we won’t rest until they enforce action on Air Pollution at all levels - Centre as well as State. Thank you for supporting us!
Petition to Chairman , Prakash Javedkar, Union Minister, Prof. Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR, Dr. S. Venkatesh (DGHS)
Ban on Fireworks Factories in India
According to the reports of World Health Organization (WHO), more than 90% of the Indian population is exposed to dangerous levels of pollution and all 40 of the world’s most polluted cities are in India. Despite this, we are very ignorant about it and keep on adding pollution and health hazards for ourselves. Exposure to polluted air directly impacts our respiratory system and causes several chronic diseases. Bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and lung cancer being some of the most common among them. Every 3rd child in India is suffering from chronic respiratory disease. This is a matter of prime concern for every Indian, whether they be parents or kids. The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, a two-year initiative seeking to highlight the issue reports that of the 90 lakh people who died due to pollution-related diseases in 2015, more than 25 lakh deaths were recorded in India, the highest in any country. The number of people dying just because of air pollution in India is growing every year making it a nationwide challenge. India’s hills and mountains also act as basins that trap toxic air over vast swaths of the country, sometimes making the air too dangerous to breathe. Data from the 2015 Global Burden of Disease analysis suggest that pollution is contributing to premature mortality and is the cause for over 10% of all Indian deaths every year. Gradually, it's creating loss to the healthy years of each and every one of our lives. We have many factors creating and contributing to pollution but this petition is especially for the concern to control the pollution created due to fireworks. Fireworks are generally used to celebrate special events like festivals, marriage ceremonies, opening ceremonies of events, official celebrations, etc. and thus become one of the most unusual sources of air and noise pollution. Apart from the visual feast of colorful lights in the sky, the burning of fireworks literally has nothing useful to offer. Fireworks have variable and heterogeneous chemical compositions. Normally, fireworks contain chemicals such as Sodium Oxalate, Charcoal, Sulphur, Manganese, Aluminum, Iron, Potassium Chlorate, Potassium Perchlorate, Strontium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrates and Barium Nitrate. In order to enhance display effects, specific elements are also added into pellets of fuel, such as Strontium, Copper, Iron, Barium, etc. Ignited fireworks in the air release gaseous and ambient particulate pollutants like Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxide, Sulphur Dioxide, suspended particles, water-soluble ions and trace metals. The burning of fireworks releases dense clouds of smoke, often degrading regional air quality to the detriment of human health and the ecological environment. As surface water can be polluted by the deposited heavy metals from fireworks, they also cause extensive damage to vegetation. Moreover, human health, especially mortality and morbidity, can also be affected by pollutants released from firework burning. During festivals and other celebrations, the pollutants released from fireworks deteriorate air quality enormously. The comprehensive studies and data suggest that in the area of fireworks, the concentrations of particulate matter (PM) are reported to be significantly higher than the respective background values. The concentrations of Sulphates and Potassium ions reach the highest of the water-soluble ions while concentrations of gaseous pollutants like Carbon Monoxide and Sulphur Dioxide also increase significantly. The effects of particles and gaseous pollutants, including metals emitted from fireworks cause serious health problems. According to WHO guidelines, Annual Mean for PM2.5 concentration should be less than 10 µg/m3 while 24-hr Mean for PM2.5 concentration should be less than 25 µg/m3. But what the reality of Indian cities actually is, can be estimated merely by the fact that our pollutants concentration is way greater and is always at least 10-20 times of this standard. Moreover, on festive nights and other occasions when fireworks are involved, this concentration reaches to values more than 800 µg/m3 and at some places it even crosses 1000 µg/m3 mark which is roughly around 50 times of daily standards and 100 times of average annual standards. This is enormously high and very very hazardous for the environment. Just look at this Map showing PM2.5 concentration on Diwali Night this year. The Government should spread awareness among citizens regarding this and also enforce strict regulations on industries creating health hazardous products and by-products. They need to make sure the industries follow high standards so as minimize the pollution and environmental risks even if they have to compromise in monetary profit. Only then Swachh Bharat Mission will hold its meaning. We sincerely appeal to the Government of India to completely ban the fireworks industries/factories and frame strict regulations for these industries to adhere high standards so as to minimize the pollution. Banning the sale of fire crackers in just one city or two for one occasion does not serve the purpose as the air is not confined to one region or place. But it should be done all over the country throughout the year. The citizens and children need to be educated about the risks and hazards involved in burning of fire-crackers and that this ban is for their own benefit. There are many people who will not stop burning crackers no matter how much awareness is provided to them. Since, the mentality of each and every person cannot be changed overnight, so it should be the duty of Government to make sure that they make them unavailable. They should frame laws such that the root cause/source of these pollutants is itself regulated and hence the production and sale does not happen. If the concern is for people employed in this field, then we suggest fireworks industries to make technical innovation so as to reduce pollutants emissions and help Government in establishing appropriate restriction levels which may balance environmental protection and festive spirit by starting to produce environment friendly and green crackers only.