Feisty climate-aware children from all over the country, including award-winning activist Licypriya Kangujam from Manipur, voiced their discontent about the lack of action to mitigate air pollution at the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council’s special web summit held recently.
Around a dozen other student climate warriors from various schools in Delhi participated in the virtual summit to voice their concern at the rising level of pollutants in the city air and lack of action to enforce a control mechanism. They also suggested solutions to curb environmental degradation.
“The policymakers and leaders are busy blaming each other, they hold meetings but do not do anything for our future – they don’t have time to listen to us. COVID-19 has not broken our spirit and though it is difficult to manage lockdown, I continue to plant trees,” said Kangujam, who with the help of Prof Chandan Ghosh of IIT, Jammu, has come up with SUKIFU (Survival Kit for the Future), a symbolic devise to show distress.
Former Chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Swatanter Kumar lauded the children for their clarity of thoughts and articulation. “Before the lockdown, the average PM 2.5 level was 120/m3 which has dropped to 27/m3, and we have only stopped interfering with nature. The ambient air quality should always be breathable as poor air quality can affect a person’s entire body structure. We should make serious efforts to stop burning waste, reduce traffic congestion, control industrial emissions and comply with guidelines, and protect forest and natural reserves,” he said.
“Studies done by Harvard University and universities in Italy have shown a correlation between mortality rates – the sudden rise of COVID cases in Delhi may be due to air pollution. Household air pollution is a major concern – the mosquito coils we use emit smoke equal to 100 cigarettes in six hours while a four-inch dhup emits smoke equal to 500 cigarettes,” said Dr Sundeep Salvi, Director, Pulmocare Research and Education (PURE) Foundation, Pune.
Mr. Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council, who moderated the session, said, “It took a pandemic to tell us that air pollution can be successfully addressed, even though air pollution has been a larger problem around that kills a large number of people but unhurriedly.”