June 4, 2021 9:11:33 pm
Concerned over the impact of deteriorating air quality on their health, over 8,000 school students from across Punjab on World Environment Day have written to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh urging him to immediately initiate steps by acting on the rising air pollution.
The demands from students predominantly echoed their right to clean air and the right to breathe while highlighting the fact that Punjab is home to some of the most polluted cities in country.
“Our teachers keep telling us about how rising air pollution and breathing toxic air affects the respiratory system and children are most vulnerable to air pollution. I keep hearing and reading about the rising air pollution levels in all cities of Punjab and it scares me just like Covid-19,” said Tanpreeet Singh, a student from Chandigarh.
He added that he hopes that the CM would at least listen to children and ensure that the younger generation is safe and every child in Punjab can breathe healthy air.
Even during the lockdown under second wave of Covid-19, when most of the industries were shut and movement halted, Ludhiana noted an average air quality index (AQI) of 135 — the AQI in 0-50 range is considerd good and in 51- 100 range moderate. Even Fazilka and Rupnagar, among the greener regions in the state, had an average AQI of 113 and 129, respectively. The alarming data puts focus on the immediate need for an intervention and promoting actions to reduce the prevalent severe air pollution.
The initiative of creating awareness amongst students on air pollution was carried out under the ‘Clean Air Punjab’ project by EcoSikh India, the latter’s president Supreet Kaur said. “Thousands of children have written to the CM expressing their concern about the air pollution and the respiratory problems associated with it. The students have shown strong will and determination for their safe future,” she added.
Supreet Kaur added that on behalf of the children, they urge the government to come up with an action plan to tackle pollution in a time-bound manner, thereby ensuring that Punjab breathes freely.
Dr Prabhjyot Kaur Sidhu, head of department, Climate Change and Agricultural Meteorology, PAU said in May, the average AQI for Punjab was 113, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. “This even when it is the cleanest time of the year when there is no residue burning. Moreover, due to lockdown conditions, the vehicular traffic was at its lowest level. The industrial pollution was also minimal,” she said.
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