Over the last few years, the issue of air pollution in Delhi has become so acute that the Capital has become synonymous with bad air quality. On Tuesday, Delhiites woke up to another disturbing report the Air Quality Life Index released by the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC) revealed that a Delhi resident stands to lose 10 years of life expectancy going by the current air pollution levels in the city. We ask a few citizen-led climate action groups from Delhi about their suggestions on the way forward.
TIME TO ACT IS NOW
“We need to act now,” says Bhavreen Kandhari from Warrior Moms—a mothers-led action group. Construction projects have long been prioritised over those that can mitigate air pollution. South Delhi’s Kandhari shares that while policies are in place, the focus must be on enforcement. “Issues such as solid-waste management, biomass burning, deforestation, etc., add to pollution levels. We need to implement laws and focus on all pollution sources,” she concludes, adding that active public transportation will pave the way for a sustainable city.
MANAGE WASTE WELL
There is no Earth B
Youth-led environment organisation, There Is No Earth B, has been working with waste collection, segregation, and disposal through its network of volunteers across India. “Ten years is probably the lower end of what it is cutting our lifespan by,” says Vasant Kunj-based founder Dhrstadyumn. He emphasises the importance of waste management to address air pollution. “It is important to have an active waste management system. All the waste ends up in landfill. Cases of fire in landfills are increasing, too; that also contributes to air pollution.”
Accept & intervene
Youth for Climate India
Vijay Sehrawat, who is the founder of Youth For Climate India, shares, “The report has sparked conversations once again. People are worried; they are talking about [air pollution].” Stressing that the issue requires immediate action given how it is impacting our health and livelihood, Alipur-based Sehrawat adds, “We need to be proactive. The government needs to accept that this is a systematic failure and intervene through measures such as a well-connected public transportation system, building waste management, and focus on tree plantation.”
Cooperation is key
Help Delhi Breathe
The impact of air pollution is more dangerous for people from vulnerable sections of society. “What about those who cannot afford healthcare or air purifiers?...,” says Mallika Arya, senior campaigner, Help Delhi Breathe—a collective working with students, parents and caregivers, RWAs, and women construction workers. “Linking air pollution to health impact is important for citizens to realise the gravity of the situation. Without making the situation alarming (unfortunately it is) we need to get people to treat this as the emergency it is,” Gurugram-based Arya concludes.