Women lead voice against effects of air pollution in Delhi's kids

Air pollution alone was responsible for almost 54,000 premature deaths in Delhi in 2020, stated a joint study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir.
A Chandigarh meet of members of Warrior Moms (Photo| EPS)
A Chandigarh meet of members of Warrior Moms (Photo| EPS)

As the summer heat recedes allowing the October haze to set in, the Capital will witness a raft of changes, increasing air pollution levels being one.

The air pollution in Delhi is known to rise at an alarming rate every year especially during winter. The leading reasons contributing to this problem include stubble burning, vehicular emission, and more.

While a number of groups are advocating for clean air, one committed voice is that of Warrior Moms - a women-led advocacy group that raises awareness predominantly about the impact of air pollution on children.

In fact, these pan-India female activists are demanding government action for clean air on a national level. They are fighting for uncontaminated air by educating citizens, empowering local  communities, and engaging with policymakers. 

Nurturing a network

Working through collaborative campaigns on the health impacts of air pollution, Warrior Moms nurtures a pan India network committed to good AQI. They have been pushing their cause forward through online and offline channels. "We are trying to be a powerful lobby for children’s health because no child in India breathes safe air," says Sherebanu Frosh, a Gurugram member of Warrior Moms.

While they launched on International Day of Clean Air in September 2020, most members were involved in the advocacy for clean air on an individual level. "Many of us have been protesting against poor air quality for years. Warrior Moms is a way of bringing the issue to light," says Gurugram-based member Anu Mukarji.

A grave problem

India is home to 37 of the 50 most polluted cities in the world, and air pollution is a severe health crisis in our country especially like Delhi. In fact, this city ranked the world’s most polluted capital for the third consecutive year in 2020 by IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels.

Air pollution alone was responsible for almost 54,000 premature deaths in Delhi in 2020, stated a joint study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Analysis and IQAir.

"If you see the reports, and analyse the damage that is happening every second, you would realise that a lot needs to be done at the policy level," says Bhavreen Kandhari, environmentalist and spokesperson for Warrior Moms. 

The way forward

The group recently wrote to the Delhi government seeking accountability on their 10-point winter action plan. The plan, which was released by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday lists solutions like ban on firecrackers, installation of smog towers, construction of an eco-waste park, among other ways to combat pollution. 

"The questions we are asking them are very strategic," says Kandhari, further stating that the government’s 10-point plan is merely a broad document that does not focus on policy  implementation.

Warrior Moms will also be sending a petition to the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change today. Signed by 1,000 women across the country, this petition pursues the central government to implement the thermal power plant norms and make sure all coal-powered thermal power plants adhere to the 2015 emission control norms. 

"We only take short-term measures during winter, when the issue becomes bad. These thermal power plants aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so at least we can make sure they meet the required standards," says Mukarji. 

Alarming statistics

  • Delhi was the world’s most polluted city for the three consecutive year in 2020. 

  • India was home to 37 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, states a 2020 IQAir report.

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The New Indian Express