In honour of India’s 75th Republic Day, the country has undergone a number of good shifts and improvements. There will be a slew of new medical facilities opening in Bengaluru and other southern cities, cultural performances all over the country as part of the Vande Bharat competition, unveiling of Vande Bharat train, Mumbai metro, India’s presidency of the Group of Twenty in 2023, the launch of Delhi- Mumbai expressway cutting the distance travel time to 12 hours and India’s bid for the Olympics in 2036. All factors discussed are contributing to the overall growth narrative in India.
Our economy, infrastructure, and security measures are all revolutionary leaps ahead of the industrialised world. On this day, the world’s largest and most populous democracy, a thriving republic with a population of 1.43 billion, is celebrating the day of constitutional rights granted by law to all of its residents.
But in order to make a place for the next generation, shouldn’t we rethink some of those rights?
When are we going to start talking about people having the right to breathe clean air? India is fifth on the list of 118 nations. We have more people than any other developing nation, which raises serious health and safety concerns. Numerous diseases and ailments have been linked to breathing contaminated air. Many different diseases and conditions, including stroke, heart attack, COPD, lung cancer, pneumonia, and even cataracts, have been linked to air pollution. It is estimated that over 1.66 million persons in India lost their lives to air pollution in 2019, an increase over the 1.64 million deaths reported in 2018. The number of deaths attributed to air pollution has skyrocketed since 1990. This shows that air pollution is more deadly than the Covid-19 virus.
The state of Bihar is home to five of the ten most polluted cities in the country, all of which have AQIs above 300 and pose major health concerns to citizens, including the notoriously polluted capital city of Delhi. Nagpur, Mysore, and Agra are just a few of our cities with comparatively pure air, yet their impacts are shrinking. Cities like Guwahati and Shillong in eastern India, once home to the country’s lungs, are also struggling with elevated AQI levels.
While the negative impacts of pollution on human health receive more attention, it is crucial to note that environmental dangers also significantly contribute to local warming and global climate change. Sir Isaac Newton’s third rule of motion states that for every action (force) in nature, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Years of consumer-driven behaviour have had unintended repercussions, and we’re just now learning to live with them.
What initiatives has India initiated to ensure the nation can deal with the horrors of air pollution?
The effort was first announced by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in January 2019. It was the first time that anyone had attempted to construct a national plan for improving air quality and set a timetable for doing so. It intends to lower the amount of coarse (particulate matter having a diameter of 10 microns or less or PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) by at least 20% during the next five years, beginning in 2017. Listed are 132 cities designated by the Central Pollution Control Board as “non-attainment” (CPCB).
Non-attainment refers to cities that have failed to fulfil the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for more than five consecutive years. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 requires the CPCB to notify the public about the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for each detected pollutant. To fulfil NAAQS regulations, PM10, PM2.5, SO2, NO2, CO, NH3, Ozone, Lead, Benzene, Benzo-Pyrene, Arsenic, and Nickel must all be decreased. The Centre has recently revised its goal of a 20-30% reduction in particulate matter concentration in cities covered by the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) by 2024, establishing a new goal of a 40% reduction by 2026.
The way forward requires remembering the significance of this
To begin, knowing your city’s AQI (Air Quality Index) can help you understand the daily effects of air quality and make informed decisions, such as whether or not to wear a mask, whether or not to exercise outside when pollution levels are high, whether or not to exercise near high-traffic areas, whether or not to increase your home’s energy efficiency, and so on. Second, you can offset your negative environmental impact by planting trees through various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and following the advice provided by a carbon footprint calculator. Realizing the effects of our actions can help us fix the problem. Make a pact with me to protect our “Right to clean air” and improve the health of the Indian people, both now and in the future.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Nidhi Mehra is Co- founder, Myplan8. My Plan 8 New-Age India’s D2C Green-Tech Initiator brand, which allows users to offset their carbon footprint entirely and effortlessly and comes under the parent company KRNY Innovations Pvt. Ltd. To make this process automatic and error-proof, Team Myplan8 has patented the technology, and under the trademark “Bharat’s First Green Money CardTM,” they will be launching the first green banking initiative in India.