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Parties must include clean air in their poll manifestos, say anti-pollution activists

Air quality data reported across six of the nine non-attainment cities in Punjab suggests that particulate matter (PM10) concentrations were beyond safe limits on more than 50 per cent of the days in the first half of 2021.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
August 5, 2021 11:31:48 am
Air pollutionA group of organisations, think tanks, civil society groups have joined hands to form ‘Clean Air Punjab’. Express Photo: Praveen Khanna

Reacting to the SAD-BSP’s 13-point agenda for the 2022 polls, members of an anti-pollution NGO have urged all political parties to feature time-bound plans to tackle air pollution and public health issues prominently in their manifestos.

A group of organisations, think tanks, civil society groups have joined hands to form ‘Clean Air Punjab’.

The aim of this collective is to work alongside the state authorities to help achieve clean air by ensuring all the non-attainment cities across Punjab implement the ‘Clean Air Action Plan’, said an office-bearer of the NGO.

The collective has expressed its displeasure with the Akali Dal–BSP manifesto, which was released on Tuesday as it failed to address the issue of deteriorating air quality in the state.

Air quality data reported across six of the nine non-attainment cities in Punjab suggests that particulate matter (PM10) concentrations were beyond safe limits on more than 50 per cent of the days in the first half of 2021. The state also recorded 41,090 deaths due to air pollution in 2019, accounting for almost 19 per cent of all deaths, revealed a study by Down to Earth and Centre for Science and Environment titled ‘State of India’s Environment 2021’.

Samita Kaur, citizen activist from Innovative Farmers Group Punjab, said that despite facing its worst health crisis due to air pollution, the authorities were still not ready to accept it.

“The air quality in the state has been worsening to an extent where air pollution has now become a major killer. Even during the second wave of Covid-19 lockdown, when most industries were shut, Punjab’s air quality was still a serious matter of concern,” she said, adding that the states green regions like Fazilka and Rupnagar had an air quality index (AQI) of 113 and 129 respectively, which are well beyond safe standards.

“We need to accept that our state is in a health emergency and there is an immediate need for an intervention and promoting actions to reduce the prevalent severe air pollution. Hence, as members of Clean Air Punjab, we want to strongly urge all political parties to make air pollution management a priority in their election manifestos and to specify time-bound measures to protect public health from the harmful impacts of air pollution,” she stated.

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